Democratic Senators, Including Al Franken, Join in Support of Investigation Into Franken as He Issues Longer Apology
Franken Accused of Unwanted Groping and Kissing
Democratic U.S. Senators are not letting party get in the way of taking a stand against sexual misconduct. Immediately after a Los Angeles talk radio news anchor accused Democratic Senator Al Franken of groping and kissing her during a USO tour in 2006, Democrats called for an investigation into Franken. The allegations come just one day after a House hearing on sexual misconduct in Congress.
After Senator Franken’s initial statement apologizing for his actions was widely panned by the left, he issued a new statement.Â
But Franken has now joined his fellow Democratic Senators in supporting an investigation into his behavior.
â€œI am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate,â€ he wrote in hisÂ statement (full statement below.)
U.S. Democratic Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Claire McCaskill (MO), Tim Kaine (VA), Tammy Duckworth (IL), Patty Murray (WA), Dick Durbin (IL), Richard Blumenthal (CT),Â along with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY), have all announced support for an investigation.
Here is Sen. Franken’s full statement, which he posted to Facebook:
The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women. There’s more I want to say, but the first and most important thingâ€”and if it’s the only thing you care to hear, that’s fineâ€”is: I’m sorry.
I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.
But I want to say something else, too. Over the last few months, all of usâ€”including and especially men who respect womenâ€”have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women.
For instance, that picture. I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn’t funny. It’s completely inappropriate. It’s obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture. And, what’s more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by itâ€”women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.
Coming from the world of comedy, I’ve told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive. But the intentions behind my actions aren’t the point at all. It’s the impact these jokes had on others that matters. And I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to come to terms with that.
While I don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe womenâ€™s experiences.
I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.
And the truth is, what people think of me in light of this is far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward to tell their stories. They deserve to be heard, and believed. And they deserve to know that I am their ally and supporter. I have let them down and am committed to making it up to them.
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Image by Clean Energy Resource TeamsÂ via Flickr and a CC license
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Florida GOP Lawmaker Who Wrote ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Facing Up to 35 Years After Pleading Guilty in COVID Fraud Case
Joe Harding, the now-former Florida Republican lawmaker who authored the extremist “Don’t Say Gay” bill could face up to 35 years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday afternoon to federal felony fraud charges in a scheme to obtain $150,000 in COVID-19 relief funds, according to Florida Politics‘ publisher Peter Scorsch.
Harding, 35, was a construction project manager who started his own lawn care company. He quickly became a right-wing darling after his anti-LGBTQ legislation, officially the Parental Rights in Education Act, was embraced by Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis, who signed it into law.
Harding was charged in a December federal indictment with six counts of wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements in his plot to obtain $150,000 in COVID funds.He resigned from the legislature the following day. He originally pled not guilty.
READ MORE: ‘Chilling’: Law Enforcement ‘Seriously’ Investigating Threats Ahead of Possible Trump Indictment Says Top WaPo Reporter
After Harding was charged and resigned, Nadine Smith, the executive director of Equality Florida, responded via social media, saying: “So much harm to students, parents and teachers because of his raw political ambitions. He slandered entire communities and trafficked in lie after lie that has emboldened violent bigotry. He will have his day in court but his legacy is already a despicable one.”
Harding is not the only family member accused of criminal acts.
“Harding’s indictment follows a September guilty plea from his brother-in-law, Patrick Walsh,” Florida Politics reported in December. “As reported by Fresh Take Florida, Walsh pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges connected to his receipt of nearly $8 million in disaster relief loans.”
Unrepentant to the harm many feel he has done to children and the LGBTQ community, in a statement Tuesday Harding said: “During the past legislative session I have felt the support of millions of Americans while fighting for our shared concerns and for the rights of parents. I will never forget the support I received from every corner of this great country.”
READ MORE: 18 Attorneys General Blast Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” Law as Unconstitutional
Harding will be sentenced in July.
Florida’s Voice also reported Harding’s guilty plea Tuesday.
RIGHT WING EXTREMISM
‘Chilling’: Law Enforcement ‘Seriously’ Investigating Threats Ahead of Possible Trump Indictment Says Top WaPo Reporter
Ahead of a possible indictment of Donald Trump, law enforcement agencies are investigating “chilling” threats, including against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, according to top Washington Post investigative reporter Carol Leonnig.
Leonnig was careful to say she is not aware of any of the threats being deemed credible, but also noted that “all sorts of law enforcement agencies” seem to be taking much more interest than some agencies did in the weeks before the January 6, 2021 insurrection.
“I have received copies and screenshots and internal documents and emails flagging concerns about specific protests, investigations into specific online threats that have been made that are not yet determined to be ‘credible and likely to occur’ but have been chilling nonetheless in terms of the threats that have been made about killing certain people,” Leonning, a Pulitzer-Prize winning author, said Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Deadline” White House.”
“Claims of, you know, ‘Alvin Bragg needs to needs to die,’ and claims online that could just be, you know, bravado, but are being seriously investigated and checked into this time around, ones that were not checked into as clearly at all in the weeks before January 6, despite significant warnings to the FBI about what these threats meant.”
Mirroring Leonnig’s reporting, Rolling Stone, citing law enforcement reports, on Tuesday noted: “Violent extremists are advocating lethal attacks and proclaiming their willingness to die for the cause.”
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“U.S. Capitol Police, the D.C. Fusion Center, and the Federal Highway Administration have all circulated warnings about the uptick in online threats over the past 48 hours. The bulletins and threat assessments detail some of the online threats and discussions about the use of specific tactics and methods for carrying out attacks — including online discussions about lethal attacks if Trump is arrested.”
On Saturday in an explosive series of social media posts Donald Trump urged his supporters to “protest” and “take our nation back.”
That “announcement was met with an immediate increase in violent online rhetoric and expressed threats toward government and law enforcement targets perceived as participating in a political persecution of the former president, as well as calls for ‘Civil War’ more generally.”
The DC Fusion Center, which analyzes threats, in a report stated it “assesses that potential criminal justice actions taken toward a former US president — or actions perceived to be taken toward the former president — remain a ‘line in the sand’ for [Domestic Violent Extremist] communities and thus have the potential to manifest in violence toward government targets or political officials,” Rolling Stone added.
Missouri Supreme Court Refuses to Disbar Lawyer Who Sexually Assaulted Six Women: Report
An 86-year old defense attorney will be allowed to keep his law license after the Missouri Supreme Court in a 4-3 ruling refused to disbar him despite having sexually assaulted six of his clients, all women.
Attorney Dan K. Purdy will be “indefinitely suspended from practicing law but allowed to apply for reinstatement after a year,” The Kansas City Star reports.
“In September 2020, Purdy made sexual advances toward four clients in a Vernon County jail interview room, including touching and kissing, that were confirmed by video provided by the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office,” The Star reports. “Each woman was later interviewed by officers and told them Purdy’s advances were unwanted.”
In addition to jail interview roos, Purdy’s sexual advances took place in court and in his car. All were locations where his clients might have felt uncomfortable to complain.
READ MORE: Trump Calls for Congress to Investigate NY AG After Judge Refuses to Delay $250 Million Fraud Trial Against Ex-President
“Purdy’s clients either did not know or did not realize they could repudiate his sexual advances,” Justice George W. Draper III wrote in the majority opinion.
There are seven justices on the Missouri Supreme Court, four appointed by Republican governors, three by Democratic governors. Four are men, three are women.
The ruling was not along party lines.
“In my view, neither the race, gender, ethnicity, nor age of an attorney should be taken into consideration to determine appropriate discipline,” wrote Justice Zel M. Fischer in his dissent. “In my view, Mr. Purdy’s conduct, which was clearly and explicitly depicted in the video evidence, warrants disbarment.”
“As recognized by the principal opinion, not only did Mr. Purdy sexually assault six female clients, he ‘exhibited a continued pattern or practice of improper and disturbing conduct, which continued, even after the present case was filed against him,'” Fischer noted. [Bolding in original text.]
Image of Missouri Supreme Court via Wikimedia
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