Franken out, Smith in amid turmoil surrounding sexual assault allegations

By Cait Olson, Staff Writer

Last Thursday, Minn. Senator Al Franken announced his resignation. Franken has not officially stated a date for his departure, but has assured that it will happen. Initially, he denied all eight sexual misconduct allegations against him. Pressure from other politicians, as well as fellow democrats asking him to step down, pushed Franken to realize the impact of such allegations.

“I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls, campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.” Said Franken in an article for the New York Times.

Minnesota is one of the states where the power of appointing a replacement senator falls upon the governor—in this case democratic Gov. Mark Dayton. Immediately after the announcement of Franken’s coming resignation, speculation was that Lt. Gov. of Minn., Tina Smith, would take the seat.

On Nov. 13, it was officially reported that this would be the case, and Tina Smith is going to fill the remainder of Franken’s term. A plethora of larger political repercussions follows, as a number of important elections for Minn. will be held in 2018. This includes the Governor position and, now, Smith’s senator position. The senate position would have been held by Franken until 2020.

It is thought that the democratic party put a great deal of pressure on Gov. Dayton to pick a candidate that would be interested in running for the senator position. Smith has indeed showed interest in running.

For many, hearing these allegations against Franken came as a shock. In general, the public wants to believe that these things don’t happen, and that a politician wouldn’t do such things. A former aide to Franken in his outreach to women stated that she felt the party’s reaction to the allegations were too much, and that they were being “too politically correct.”

Franken’s allegations come at an extremely chaotic time as more survivors are speaking up about their experiences within both democratic and republican parties. This includes former senator of Al. Roy Moore; Moore lost his seat to democrat Doug Jones in the Nov. 12 election. As many remember, various allegations of sexual assault also extend back to Trump himself resurfacing at the time of the election. John Conyers of Michigan is another former representative recently announcing his retirement amid sexual assault allegations.

It is becoming clear that politicians and other powerful people are not exempt from the need to be held accountable for actions that cause damage to others and perpetuate rape culture.

This article first appeared in the Friday, December 15, 2017, Edition of The Echo.