U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill is calling for an ethics investigation of her Democratic colleague U.S. Sen. Al Franken following allegations that the Minnesota senator groped and kissed a news anchor without her consent.
“I’m shocked and concerned,” McCaskill said in a statement Thursday. “The behavior described is completely unacceptable. Comedy is no excuse for inappropriate conduct, and I believe there should be an ethics investigation.”
McCaskill’s comments came after reports that Franken, a former Saturday Night Live performer elected to the Senate in 2008, aggressively kissed Leann Tweeden, a Los Angeles radio anchor, in 2006 when the two were rehearsing a skit for a USO show.
In addition, Tweeden later discovered a photo of Franken fondling her breasts while she was asleep on the tour. She said she felt violated and humiliated.
McCaskill initially did not answer when asked about Franken by The Star’s Washington correspondent after a tax hearing Thursday.
“I’ll have a statement soon. I’m not going to talk about it,” she said. “I’ll have a statement soon.” She released her official statement a few minutes later.
Franken is calling for an ethics investigation of himself.
The Minnesota Democrat headlined the Missouri Democratic Party’s annual Truman dinner in St. Louis earlier this month, helping raise money for McCaskill’s 2018 re-election efforts.
Franken’s Midwest Values PAC has already contributed $10,000 to McCaskill’s campaign this election cycle and contributed $20,000 to her previous campaigns.
McCaskill’s campaign will donate the combined $30,000 from Franken’s PAC to charity, according to Meira Bernstein, a Missouri Democratic spokeswoman authorized to speak for the campaign.
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, the top GOP recruit challenging McCaskill in 2018, said on Twitter that Franken should resign and that both McCaskill and the state Democratic Party should return money raised by Franken.
Hawley had previously said Alabama Republican Roy Moore should drop out of that state’s special Senate election if allegations of sexual misconduct with teen girls were true. After additional women brought new allegations against the former judge, Hawley said that unless Moore “can give rock solid evidence that these claims are false, he should get out of the race.”
Lindsay Wise, The Star’s Washington correspondent, contributed to this report.