Three dozen women who worked with Sen. Al Franken during his tenure on "Saturday Night Live" came out in defense of the Minnesota Democrat facing allegations of sexual misconduct.
In the letter, the women slammed Franken’s behavior toward Leeann Tweeden — who accused the lawmaker of forcibly kissing and groping her more than a decade ago — as “stupid and foolish” but wrote that “not one of us ever experienced any inappropriate behavior” from the former SNL cast member.
“We feel compelled to stand up for Al Franken, whom we have all had the pleasure of working with over the years on Saturday Night Live (SNL). What Al did was stupid and foolish, and we think it was appropriate for him to apologize to Ms. Tweeden, and to the public,” the women wrote. “In our experience, we know Al as a devoted and dedicated family man, a wonderful comedic performer, and an honorable public servant.”
“That is why we are moved to quickly and directly affirm that after years of working with him, we would like to acknowledge that not one of us ever experienced any inappropriate behavior; and mention our sincere appreciation that he treated each of us with the utmost respect and regard,” they added.
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The letter, titled “SNL Women Offer Solidarity in Support of Al Franken,” was signed by 36 women who worked on the program with Franken. Franken worked as a writer and performer on the NBC program from 1975 to 1980 and again from 1985 to 1995.
The letter was sent out less than a week after Tweeden, a radio news anchor with KABC in Los Angeles, accused Franken of forcibly kissing and groping her a decade ago when they were overseas entertaining U.S. troops.
Several of Franken’s colleagues in the Senate have called for an Ethics Committee investigation into his behavior. Franken has issued an apology and said he would cooperate with any probe.
Following Tweeden’s allegation, a group of former female staffers in Franken’s office and on his campaigns penned a letter in which they wrote that Franken “treated us with the utmost respect,” “valued our work and our opinions and was a champion for women both in the legislation he supported and in promoting women to leadership roles in our offices."
In addition, his former chief of staff, Casey Aden-Wansbury, defended Franken, saying in a statement that “he has always worked hard to create a respectful environment for his staff.”
On Monday, however, another woman came forward with an allegation against Franken. Lindsay Menz, 33, told CNN in an interview that Franken grabbed her buttocks when they posed for a photo together in 2010 at the Minnesota State Fair.
In a statement, Franken said that, "I take thousands of photos at the state fair surrounded by hundreds of people, and I certainly don't remember taking this picture."
"I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected," Franken said.