Former GOP Minn. governor urges Franken to stay

Former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson says Sen. Al Franken should stay in office until the allegations against him are investigated. MPR News photo
  1. Listen Story audio

With his resignation date still not set, Democratic Sen. Al Franken is being urged to remain in office until allegations of sexual misconduct can be examined by the Senate Ethics Committee. Former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson endorsed that view in a commentary Sunday.

The push to get Franken to undo his planned resignation is airing mostly on social media, where his supporters are raising doubts about the accusations against him and venting about the coordinated calls by the senator’s Democratic colleagues to leave office with three years left on his second term.

Franken said Thursday he would resign “in the coming weeks” but hasn’t yet submitted a letter that would make his departure official. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton is in the process of selecting a replacement to serve at least through a November 2018 special election.

In Carlson’s lengthy commentary, emailed to a list of undisclosed recipients, he describes himself as “deeply troubled by the resignation of Al Franken and the complete absence of anything resembling due process.” Carlson questions the motivation of Franken’s first accuser, who came forward with the photo showing Franken putting his hands near her chest that the senator has himself called “inexcusable.”

Carlson also brings up the Alabama Senate race where Republican nominee Roy Moore has faced multiple allegations of dating minors when he was in his 30s.

“Further, we know that Senate Democrats who asked for Franken’s resignation may have been motivated more by the politics of the Alabama Senate race than the seriousness of the allegations,” Carlson writes.

Carlson said Franken should rescind his resignation until after “a prompt and thorough review of all allegations by the Senate Ethics Committee.”

He adds that Franken “was elected by we, the people, and he should continue to serve until a legal determination has been made.”

Carlson served two terms as a Republican, leaving office in 1999. He has slid left on the political spectrum, often endorsing Democratic candidates for office, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Carlson’s own political rise came amid a scandal facing a fellow Republican. In 1990, he lost in a Republican gubernatorial primary to Jon Grunseth but became the nominee late in the campaign when Grunseth left the race after being accused of skinny dipping with minors during a pool party a decade earlier.

After stepping in with weeks left in the race, Carlson defeated Democratic Gov. Rudy Perpich in the general election.

  • Charlie Hurd

    Not a bad idea to go through a hearing process to see if accusers actually show up. Democrats seem to be in need of an outsider to break up their “believe all women” circular firing squad.

  • Gary F

    Remember folks, Franken didn’t admit wrong doing and didn’t resign.

    • RichardOwens

      I heard him say he was sorry and that he was ashamed of the USO “comedy” where he was copping a feel through a flak jacket (absurdity is HUMOR).

      The women accusing him of squeezing their butts or waist don’t sound credible- especially the one who said, “Then he said it was his right as an Entertainer…” (who even talks like that? Franken would not utter the Donald’s entitlement quip.

      So I’d say you are wrong in your characterization.

      • rob roettger

        Have you ever worn a Kevlar flak jacket? Your not getting a feel of anything. I am not saying it was a proper gesture. You are not feeling anything with a Kevlar flak jacket on.

        • MNhistoryfan

          Maybe that was part of the joke. (You’re, by the way, not your.) (I’m an inveterate editor; I can’t help myself.)

          • rob roettger

            I know the difference. Do you have anything relevant to say? I did not think so. Your too much of a coward to put your name in front of your post. Coward!

      • unsavedheathen

        He apologized for the act of staging a photo that showed him pretending to touch a “sleeping” woman. Read his statement on the floor of the Senate. Franked admitted to nothing.

  • cpepin
  • Kirsten Joan Vaage

    I suggest that Arne hasn’t moved left, but the right has moved further right without him. His alternative is to align with what is now considered “left,” when it simply might be “reasonable.”

    • Tommy Jude

      well said

    • Fred, Just Fred

      He voted for Obama and Hillary. He regularly opines favorably on leftist proposals.

      Arne was always a marginal Republican, never a conservative. Wearing his tinfoil Democrat hat in public is the logical next step.

  • elbaroc84

    Unless I have incorrect information, the Ethics Commitee offers no due process. They meet behind closed doors, there are no public hearings. And after the way Anita Hill was treated I cannot imagine anyone subjecting themselved to that kind of abuse.
    If he broke any laws they were at best misdemeanors. Unlike Matt Lauer, Chatlie Rose, Weinstein, Keilhor, C.K. Louis and so on and so on. Now have gone to court. But all have lost their jobs. Why? Because their employers did not want to be associated with them as well as wanting to protect their other employees. Franken resigned because his peers no longer wanted to be associated with. Since thats a major part of his job he resigned. I really see no difference between him resigning and these other men getting fired. There has been no due process for anyone involved in these cases. Why suddenly is Arnie suddenly speaking out now? Has he spoke out about the other cases? No. So what’s changed? Why call for due process now? How exactly will any due process be giving by the Ethics Committee?

    • The difference is that he’s an elected official, those who elected him should have some say in if he stays or goes.

    • RichardOwens

      Sworn complaints to an officer of the court by the accusers would trigger a real crime and a real adjudication.

      Absent that, the ethics committee is all Franken has for Due Process,. After all, allegations not charged are simply a Republican method of character assassination, which is how Republicans address campaigns- destroy your opponent’s reputation and avoid issues.

    • unsavedheathen

      “Due process” is the safeguard due to the accused, not the accuser.

      Since Franken has been charged with nothing as his actions as described by his accusers amount to unappreciated sophomoric humor and not criminal acts and the Senate Ethics Committee ostensibly exists as the only recourse beyond the polls to judge and sanction a sitting Senator, the Ethics Committee is exactly due process.

  • theoacme

    Unfortunately, the only way Governor Carlson’s words here would have ever had any real meaning is if he had personally and publicly condemned, by individual name, and in the name of the Constitution of the United States, every Republican in the United States Congress, as well as the Republican Parties of the United States and each individual state, as well as President Trump, and every member of President Trump’s administration.

    Without publicly and specifically recognizing that the naked misogyny of the Republican Party is growing ever more threatening to all women in the world (not just the United States), as well as to anyone else who opposes their rapist misogyny, Governor Carlson’s merely being a “useful idiot” for President Trump and the Republican Party.

    Since Governor Carlson has not condemned President Trump and the Republican Party Congressmen by name, he is just as much of a threat to me and my family as Roy Moore, Donald Trump, and every American who supports Trump and Moore. (I believe that all the ardent supporters of Trump are capable of a Krystallnacht 2.0 that would make the Ku Klux Klan lynchings of the past look like a Girl Scout cookie party, and I believe that they all would joyously lynch me and my family.)

    I believe that the entirety of the Republican AND Democratic Parties are unfit to hold any office or public trust, and all their politicians and major financial contributors (anyone who donated more than $5,000 in lifetime totals to any combination of the Republican and Democratic Parties and candidates bearing either of the Republican Party or Democratic Party names is a major financial contributor) should be permanently banned from all political activities, and lose all their political civil rights (including the right to vote or serve on a jury), forever.

    • RichardOwens

      Thanks for say it so well.

    • jimh

      “Since Governor Carlson has not condemned President Trump and the Republican Party Congressmen by name, he is just as much of a threat to me and my family as Roy Moore, Donald Trump, and every American who supports Trump and Moore.”

      This is exactly how a witch hunt works: If you don’t join in the condemnation, your’e a witch too.

  • Wolski

    I would second Ms. Vaage’s position. I believe the Republican Party and the country itself have moved right. I also note that no cite is given for whose opinion it is that Gov. Carlson has moved to the left.

    • RichardOwens

      Arne was a “state-first”, “politics second”, kind of Gov.

  • Suzanne TheMagician

    When did he call them liars?

  • Pat S.

    I think it only fair that Franken stay and do as he has been doing as a senator all along – FIGHT FOR OUR RIGHTS – especially since he never Bragged about what he did, unlike our current oval office occupant!!! When that misogynist quits, then lets let Franken resign.

  • jimh

    Absolutely. Thanks Gov. Carlson.

  • monireh moniret

    Some Democrat Senators destroying Al Franken life and the Democrat VOTER’s right. Al Franken was chosen by voters , NOT by bunch of Senators who betrayed Franken’s VOTERS without a benefit of doubts.

  • rob roettger

    That was not very nice.

    • rob roettger

      Your facts are simply incorrect.

  • AmiSchwab

    al is being railroaded and resigning will help no one

  • Lena Tabori

    I am 100% with Arne Carlson. Franken has proven himself as a great Senator and I can find, outside of “horseplay”, nothing that warrants pressuring him to resign. No evidence at all (unlike our President who implicated himself on video). Gillibrand, whom I have always supported, has now moved into a new role and become a sanctimonious political player. I can only hope that her own Presidential aspirations will not blind her from justice and fairness forever.

  • jboozer

    Franken should have called a press conference and said he would resign when trump resigns.

  • Fred, Just Fred

    Former GOP and former Governor.


  • Kevin Cunneen

    Senator Alan Franken

    Dear Mr. Franken,

    So, you’re embarrassed, deal with it. We have had innumerable persons in the history of American political life that have done really stupid things. Some even while in office. Americans do not require perfection in their politicians. Stop being such a weenie. If you’ve done wrong then simply tell the truth, express sincere remorse and ask forgiveness. Minnesotans, like most Americans, are good people willing to give you a second chance. Remember Nixon’s “Checkers,” speech, bad example maybe, but you get the point.
    The Democratic Party doesn’t care if Minnesotans loses a good Senator. And you are a good Senator Al. All they care about is keeping another blue seat. What we the people however, cannot abide, is lying, denying and getting caught in the lie later. Al, a good chunk of your career has been making fun of politicians behaving stupidly. So you got caught acting stupid, STUPID! Own up, then shut up and get back to the people’s business. Don’t resign.
    Kevin C.