Democratic senators were unequivocal on Thursday in their calls for an investigation into sexual assault allegations against Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), standing in stark contrast to how their Republican peers have responded to allegations against GOP Alabama Senate nominee Roy Moore.
About two dozen Democratic senators have come forward with statements denouncing Franken’s alleged behavior during a USO tour in December 2006. Anchorwoman and sportscaster Leeann Tweeden said Thursday that Franken groped and kissed her without her consent.
Most of the senators called for an ethics investigation, and many acknowledged that workplace sexual harassment has long been ignored. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) have vowed to take campaign money they received from Franken’s PAC and donate it to charity.
“Sexual harassment and misconduct should not be allowed by anyone and it should not occur anywhere,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said. “This story is extremely troubling and the behavior is unacceptable. I will support an investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee.”
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) said she was glad Franken “immediately apologized,” but added that “this kind of behavior isn’t ok whether it’s a Republican or a Democrat and I support an Ethics Committee investigation.”
Their swift, straightforward responses are a far cry from the statements that Republican senators trickled out after four women accused Moore of sexually harassing them when they were between the ages of 14 and 18. Many of the senators hedged their calls for Moore to suspend his campaign by using some version of the phrase, “if these allegations are true.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was one of the few senators to unequivocally say Moore was unfit for office.
Below are more statements from Democratic senators regarding the Franken allegations.
From Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.):
These types of actions are simply unacceptable and should be reviewed by the Ethics Committee. Women across America should be able to feel safe in their workplace, and they deserve our support when coming forward with allegations of misconduct.
From Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.):
Treating all women with dignity is of paramount importance. These actions are disturbing. I support an ethics committee investigation into this matter.
From a spokesman for Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.):
Michael believes that sexual harassment is completely unacceptable. He agrees that the Ethics Committee should thoroughly investigate this allegation.
From Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.):
Senator Franken says he welcomes an ethics investigation and I agree that should happen.
Many others shared their comments on social media:
Sexual harassment is never acceptable and must not be tolerated.— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) November 16, 2017
I hope and expect that the Ethics Committee will fully investigate this troubling incident, as they should with any credible allegation of sexual harassment.
The allegations against Sen. Franken are deeply concerning. This kind of behavior is unacceptable and should not be tolerated anywhere in our society. There is nothing funny about it and there is no excuse for it. The Ethics Committee deserves answers from him.— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) November 16, 2017
Re Al Franken: I’m shocked and concerned. The behavior described is completely unacceptable. Comedy is no excuse for inappropriate conduct, and I believe there should be an ethics investigation.— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) November 16, 2017
Such behavior is unacceptable. Period. https://t.co/p4RBy4x7rn— Tim Kaine (@timkaine) November 16, 2017
Allegations of sexual assault or harassment by any member of Congress, like those against Senator Franken, must be taken seriously and investigated fully by the Ethics Committee.— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) November 16, 2017
I am deeply troubled by the allegations against Senator Franken and I believe there should be an ethics Investigation into the matter. Sexual harassment is not a joke and must always be taken seriously.— Martin Heinrich (@MartinHeinrich) November 16, 2017
Statement on Senator Franken: pic.twitter.com/VC8iic8Edc— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) November 16, 2017
I support an ethics committee investigation into these accusations and I hope this latest example of the deep problems on this front spurs continued action to address it. https://t.co/i0ooPDuG4E— Senator Patty Murray (@PattyMurray) November 16, 2017
The allegations against Senator Franken are serious and unacceptable. There should be an ethics investigation.— Sen. Debbie Stabenow (@SenStabenow) November 16, 2017
The conduct described here is completely unacceptable and must be taken extremely seriously. Actions like that weren't funny then and they aren't funny now. I fully support an ethics committee investigation. https://t.co/zAoQeblrHj— Sen. Maggie Hassan (@SenatorHassan) November 16, 2017
The allegations against Sen. Franken are serious. Harassment in any setting is clearly unacceptable. The Ethics Committee should investigate this matter.— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) November 16, 2017
There is never an excuse for this behavior—ever. What Senator Franken did was wrong, and it should be referred to the Ethics Committee for review.— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) November 16, 2017
"I know he said it was inappropriate, and I agree," Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, told CNN, adding that he's been busy & didn't know much else— Ashley Killough (@KilloughCNN) November 16, 2017
This is deeply disappointing and this type of behavior is unacceptable. I support the Ethics Committee process and investigation into this inappropriate conduct. I expect to hear more from Sen. Franken. https://t.co/stSf3pdY0a— Senator Cortez Masto (@SenCortezMasto) November 16, 2017
Here’s my statement on Senator Franken pic.twitter.com/hrSxlCqsFq— Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (@SenatorHeitkamp) November 16, 2017
Sexual harassment is intolerable, unacceptable and without excuse. We need the Ethics Committee to investigate this incident about Senator Al Franken fully.— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) November 16, 2017
What Al Franken did was inappropriate and unacceptable. He must be held accountable, as should anyone who treats women this way. In light of his actions, I will be donating the $25k from Franken to support the important work of @MT_CADSV.— Jon Tester (@jontester) November 16, 2017
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) also called for people to take Tweeden’s accusations seriously.
“I’m deeply disturbed by what I read today,” he said. “It took extraordinary bravery for Leeann Tweeden to come forward. Al Franken has been a good friend of mine for years, but we as a progressive community must take her words seriously, and fully commit ourselves to creating a world free from sexual harassment and assault.”
This article has been updated with additional responses from Democratic senators.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.