We don’t know how things are done in Minnesota or Alabama, but in North Carolina, these allegations don’t get you a pat on the back or a promotion.
The troubled Al Franken of Minnesota, whose star originally rose as a writer and comedian on Saturday Night Live in the 70s and 80s, has announced the end of his political career in the Senate.
But before announcing the end, Franken tested the waters of public opinion, as you can see in the Facebook screenshot below. Franken writes about “a lot of reflecting” and being “glad” to keep on keeping on as a federal lawmaker fixing student debt, prescription drug prices, the opioid crisis, and so on.
Then he evidently waited to see how folks would respond.
This was Dec. 1. On Dec. 7, Franken called a press conference to announce his resignation, after numerous colleagues in his own DFL camp called for it.
What does this Facebook screenshot tell us?
It tells us that if you’re a distinguished Senator for Minnesota, you feel free enough to test the waters of continuing to work in the Senate, to see if those waters scald or not, despite allegations of sexual misconduct – fighting words to a North Carolina prosecutor, if not to a prosecutor in Minnesota.
Granted, we’re not talking about criminal charges – none have been filed – but it does go to show the warm blanket of presumption that if you’re somehow distinguished, these transgressions will be ignored or brushed under the rug.
And we haven’t even gotten around to Roy Moore yet.
The millionaires and politicians have their get-out-of-jail-free cards
The allegations against Franken generally consist of un-consented touching of women’s breasts and behinds, as well as kisses and attempted kisses. The most damning evidence to date is a picture of Franken onboard an airplane during a USO tour to entertain the troops, making fun at a colleague’s expense, reaching out with both arms to touch her chest while she slept, and turning to smile at the camera.
In North Carolina, the actions depicted in this photograph qualify as sexual assault, as harsh at it might sound to some – as harsh as it certainly sounds to many of our clients facing criminal charges who, like Franken, would love to be able to apologize to make it all go away.
Roy Moore: The weirdness gets weirder
And then there’s Roy Moore, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama, current Republican Senate nominee. Like Franken, Moore has been accused of sexual misconduct. In Moore’s case, the allegations paint a darker picture. Moore has been accused of initiating sexual encounters with teenage girls when he was in his 30s – behavior Moore has acknowledged, citing the age of consent in Alabama as 16. Most damning, however, is the accusation that Moore sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl at that time.
Note that Moore, like Franken, hasn’t been charged with any crime.
But Moore soldiers on for the U.S. Senate, a hearty endorsement from President Trump in his pocket (Trump himself no stranger to genitalia grabbing), and much of the GOP apparently behind him, eager for a party win. In North Carolina, these kinds of allegations would have a person worrying about prison, not a Senate race.