Stabenow, Peters join call for Franken to resign

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters joined the majority of the Democratic caucus Wednesday in calling on their colleague Sen. Al Franken to resign, as sexual harassment allegations continued to mount for the Minnesota lawmaker.

“Sexual harassment is unacceptable. I believe Senator Franken should do the right thing and resign,” tweeted Stabenow, a Lansing Democrat.

“I think the time has come for Senator Franken to step down,” Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, said on Twitter.

Another Franken accuser stepped forward Wednesday – an unnamed former aide who told POLITICO he attempted to forcibly kiss her in 2006. Franken denied the claim, calling it “categorically not true.”

Under new pressure from his colleagues, Franken’s office said he would have an announcement Thursday.

The call by Stabenow, Peters and others came after Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, posted on Facebook, calling Franken’s behavior toward women “unacceptable.”

“While Senator Franken is entitled to have the Ethics Committee conclude its review, I believe it would be better for our country if he sent a clear message that any kind of mistreatment of women in our society isn’t acceptable by stepping aside to let someone else serve,” Gillibrand wrote.

Other female senators who urged Franken’s resignation included Democrats Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell of Washington state, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Heidi Heitcamp of North Dakota and Republican Susan Collins of Maine.

After a majority of Democratic senators came out urging a resignation, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York did so as well.

“I consider Senator Franken a dear friend and greatly respect his accomplishments, but he has a higher obligation to his constituents and the Senate, and he should step down immediately,” Schumer said later Wednesday.

At least nine male senators have called on Franken to resign, including the No. 2 Democrat, whip Dick Durbin of Illinois; and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

“The right thing is for him to resign,” Sanders said in a statement. “We are finally addressing the issue of sexual harassment, and we need to get it right. But the conversation we are having now is only the tip of the iceberg. It needs to be an ongoing movement of women and men that includes a national discussion about sexism, sexual harassment, objectification, inequality and abuse of power.”

Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez also said Franken should go.

Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has not said Franken should step down.

In the House, Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California last week called on former U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Detroit, to resign after women went public with sexual harassment accusations against the 88-year-old lawmaker.

Conyers stayed in office for five more days before resigning Tuesday.

’Silence Breakers’ named Time magazine’s Person of the Year

The “Silence Breakers” — those who have shared their stories about sexual assault and harassment — have been named Time magazine’s Person of the Year.

Numerous women have spoken out publicly since October about sexual misconduct by dozens of high-profile men in entertainment, media, business and sports. Time praised those who have given “voice to open secrets, for moving whisper networks onto social networks, for pushing us all to stop accepting the unacceptable.” The magazine’s cover features Ashley Judd, Taylor Swift, Susan Fowler and others who say they have been harassed.