Franken Announces Resignation
Senator Al Franken (DFL-Minnesota) has just announced that he will resign from the US Senate but he did not specify a date.
The announcement had been expected in recent days and is the result of multiple allegations of sexual harassment by Franken both before and after he entered the Senate.
During his announcement he contended that he was not guilty of the charges and would be cleared by the Ethics committee but that he was stepping down so that the people of Minnesota could have a full time Senator. He also made direct reference to allegations against both President Trump and Roy Moore.
Certainly there is a legitimate point that both Trump and Moore have done wrong and they both should step aside as well. The Republicans will likely pay a price for their refusal to make members of their party do the right thing
But I think he might have been wiser to save some of those comments for a later date.
In addition his comments that suggested he did nothing wrong somewhat detract from his taking the moral high ground.
On the other hand he does have a legitimate point that we are seeming to enter an era in which some people are guilty until proven innocent. I’m not sure it applies to Franken as there were multiple allegations covering an extended period of time but I do worry about an era where a person can see their career ruined just because of unproven allegations.
We do need to find a balance between giving respect to the accusers and the difficult situations they are in with the rights of the accused to have a fair hearing.
In addition there is a level of political hypocrisy on both sides here.
As I already stated the Republicans seem to be willing to accept men who seem to have engaged in horrible behavior so long as it brings them political power.
At the same time I don’t think we can start measuring Democratic leaders for halos. Certainly they are more political adept than their GOP counterparts and I am sure many are sincere in their displeasure at this kind of conduct, whether from Franken or from Congressman Conyers.
However it appears that this kind of conduct by members has been widely known within the party leadership for some time. It wasn’t until the stories became public that they began to move and even then it was somewhat reluctantly with initial responses being fairly muted.
There is thus a good deal of politics playing in the Democratic actions and not as much nobility as they might want to allege.
Doesn’t change the fact that the GOP is wrong for failing to clean house or that in many cases these resignations by Democrats were not proper, but ultimately politics is politics.
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (DFL-Minnesota) will name a successor who will serve until a special election in 2018 for the 2 years left on the term. He is expected to name Lt. Governor Tina Smith (DFL) who would not run for re-election.
Although there is certainly symbolism to naming a female successor there is also the practical factor that she would not run for re-election. In 1976 Vice President elect Walter Mondale resigned and the incumbent governor resigned and was then appointed to the seat by his successor. The resulting voter discontent over the self appointment helped lead to a 1978 GOP sweep of 2 Senate seats and the Governorship.
This temporary appointment will allow an open election next year which the Democrats would be favored to win.