Monday, November 20, 2017

Dear Senator Franken

I voted for you twice. I have been an ardent supporter, and I was proud of the way in which you worked to oppose President Trump's nominations, particularly Betsy DeVos and Jeff Sessions. I also lauded your efforts to push for thorough investigations of Russian election tampering, and to fight the Republican legislative agenda. I have called your office to thank you for all of these things.

So when Leeann Tweeden wrote her essay last week, as a constituent and genuine admirer, I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt -- you have worked hard for Minnesota, and you have championed many of the issues that are personally important to me.

I cannot, however, ignore the second set of allegations against you that were published this morning in the StarTribune. For the good of Minnesota, I think it is time for you to make arrangements to end your career in the senate.

I did not weigh in publicly before now, because I was trying to be patient, and I was experiencing so many conflicting feelings. After your eloquent and personal apology to Leeann Tweeden and her acceptance of it, I breathed a sigh of relief and I was prepared to move on. From my remote vantage point, it seemed as though Tweeden was at least open to the idea that whatever happened between the two of you was a misunderstanding.

This second story recasts all of that. The incident occurred at the State Fair - the quintessentially Minnesotan family-oriented event. It was openly discussed by the accuser at the time, and it happened when you were our sitting senator. Even though what is alleged by the second woman is not as bad as what Tweeden said happened to her, it is still terrible, and perhaps worse in its own way: it happened in a context where your conduct should have been far beyond reproach.

I am not saying this out of fear of the narrative that will be spun in some circles -- people often tell tales regardless of truth. My concern is the actual harm that you did to these women. For that, you should step down. Minnesota needs a senator who better represents the values of the progressive movement.

This is not an easy letter to write, and it is not a knee-jerk reaction -- this is my considered opinion as a voter in Minnesota. I have spent a great deal of the last four days thinking and listening to people -- especially women -- and now that I have heard a second accuser step forward, I have come to a realization: you can no longer effectively serve us, your constituents. This story will follow you wherever you go, and it will render you irrelevant at best. I shudder to contemplate the worst-case scenario.

I would rather not take a chance on a special election. But these allegations are not going to go away.

Please do the right and honorable thing. Make us proud one more time.