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.