Politics

Second Woman Says Franken Inappropriately Touched Her

Alleged incident took place in 2010, Franken’s second year in office

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., has been accused of sexual harassment by two women in the last week . (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A second woman has accused Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate contact with her. The alleged incident took place in 2010, when the Minnesota Democrat was in his second year as a senator.

It is the first such accusation of inappropriate touching against Franken as a sitting senator.

Los Angeles radio news host Leeann Tweeden accused Franken in an open letter on her station’s website last week of forcibly kissing and groping her in 2006 when the two were on a USO tour.

Lindsay Menz, 33, reached out to CNN hours after Tweeden’s story broke to share her uncomfortable encounter with Franken.

Menz alleged Franken pulled her close and grabbed her buttocks for three or four seconds as her husband, Jeremy Menz, snapped a picture of them at the 2010 Minnesota state fair.

“It wasn’t around my waist. It wasn’t around my hip or side. It was definitely on my butt,” she said. “I was like, oh my God, what’s happening.”

Menz’s husband did not see the senator grab his wife’s buttocks but verified that he took the picture.

“He reached around her and kind of pulled her into him,” Jeremy Menz said. “He pulled her in and pushed his head against her head. It was over pretty quick.”

Franken’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Menz posted the photo to Facebook on August 27, 2010, soon after the alleged incident. Her sister noted the physical closeness of Menz and Franken, whose faces were touching, in the comments below.

“Sorry, but you two aren’t Bibles (sic) width apart,” Menz’s sister wrote.

“Dude -- Al Franken TOTALLY molested me! Creeper!” Menz replied.

Franken called last week for the Senate ethics committee to investigate the 2006 matter. He has said he would cooperate fully.

The second-term Democrat said Monday he did not remember taking the picture with Menz but that he regretted she left the encounter in discomfort.

“I take thousands of photos at the state fair surrounded by hundreds of people, and I certainly don’t remember taking this picture,” Franken said in a statement to CNN. “I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected.”

The state of Minnesota does not consider “intentional touching of the clothing covering the immediate area of the buttocks” criminal sexual conduct.

The accusations against Franken come as some members of Congress press for measures combatting sexual harassment on Capitol Hill.

Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York introduced legislation Wednesday with California Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier that aims to do just that. The legislation, dubbed the Member and Employee Training and Oversight On Congress Act, or ME TOO Congress, would make response training for sexual harassment mandatory for all members and staff, including interns and fellows.

One of the first amendments Franken ever offered as a senator was in 2009 to “stop funding defense contractors who deny assault victims their day in court,” he said in a release at the time. The amendment was agreed to by a 68-30 vote.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.