A second woman on Monday accused Minnesota Sen. Al Franken of unwanted sexual touching, with this alleged encounter occurring after he was elected.
CNN reported that it was contacted by 33-year-old Lindsay Menz, who said Franken grabbed her buttocks while posing together for a photo at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010.
In a statement to CNN, Franken said he did not remember taking the photo with Menz.
“I take thousands of photos at the State Fair surrounded by hundreds of people, and I certainly don’t remember taking this picture. I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected,” Franken said in a statement to CNN. His staff did not respond to inquiries on Monday.
The Star Tribune was unable to reach Menz for comment; she now lives in Texas. Menz told CNN she was at the fair with her husband and her father, a businessman who was sponsoring a local radio booth, and she spent the day taking photos with various elected officials and political candidates as they stopped by. No one answered the door Monday afternoon at the south metro home of Menz’s parents. Her sister answered the door at her home, but said she had no comment.
Menz’s account follows last week’s disclosure by Los Angeles radio broadcaster LeeAnn Tweeden that the Democratic senator forcibly kissed her during a 2006 USO tour.
He has since apologized but added that he remembers their encounter differently. On that same tour, the former “Saturday Night Live” cast member also mugged for a photo with his hands hovering over Tweeden’s breasts as she slept.
The incidents have left Franken facing a Senate ethics investigation and calls to resign.
Following Menz’s accusations, two progressive groups called on the Democrat to resign from the U.S. Senate, just days after similar calls by two DFL candidates for governor, State Auditor Rebecca Otto and state Rep. Erin Murphy.
Leaders of Indivisible, a new organization with an aim of resisting the agenda of President Donald Trump, tweeted on Monday that Franken should step down.
“We believe Lindsay Menz. We believe LeeAnn Tweeden. Senator Al Franken should be accountable and he should resign,” read the tweet from the group’s main Twitter account.
In addition, CREDO Action, which describes itself as a group that organizes for progressive change, posted a similar call on its website. “Sen. Al Franken had the chance last week to take full responsibility for past … behavior that demeaned women. He failed to do so,” the group said. It went on: “We believe that Sen. Franken should immediately resign from the U.S. Senate and that Gov. Mark Dayton should appoint a progressive woman to replace him.”
A Franken spokesman said on Saturday that the senator did not plan to resign. A group of 14 women who worked for Franken in recent years issued a letter saying he always treated them respectfully. Also on Monday, 36 women who worked with Franken on Saturday Night Live issued a statement supporting Franken, and acknowledging that “not one of us ever experienced any inappropriate behavior.” The statement acknowledges Tweeden’s allegations, but not those of Menz.
While a host of Democratic politicians in Minnesota and around the country condemned Franken’s behavior after Tweeden went public, the response to Menz’s account was more muted. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Franken’s fellow Minnesota Democrat, reiterated her call for a Senate ethics inquiry into Franken’s behavior.
CNN says Menz contacted the network on Thursday, hours after Tweeden posted an essay about her experience with Franken. Menz told CNN she wanted to relay an “uncomfortable” interaction that left her feeling “gross.”
Menz told the network that when the first-term senator walked in to the booth at the fair, Menz and her husband recognized him right away. Menz said she had a brief and cordial exchange with the senator.
Then as her husband got ready to snap a phone photo of the two of them, Franken “pulled me in really close, like awkward close, and as my husband took the picture, he put his hand full-fledged on my rear,” Menz said. “It was wrapped tightly around my butt cheek.”
“It wasn’t around my waist. It wasn’t around my hip or side. It was definitely on my butt,” she told CNN, recalling that it lasted three or four seconds. “I was like, ‘oh my God, what’s happening.’ ”
Husband Jerry Menz told CNN that Franken “reached around her and kind of pulled her into him. He pulled her in and pushed his head against her head. It was over pretty quick.”
Lindsay Menz told CNN she walked away as soon as the photo was taken, without saying anything to the then-first term senator. When she joined her husband moments later, she told him: “He totally grabbed my butt.”
Menz’s mother, Jodi Brown, told CNN that she discussed the incident with her daughter immediately afterward and that she distinctly recalls her son-in-law saying to her: “Our senator just groped my wife right in front of me.”
In the photo of Menz and Franken, the side of the senator’s face is pressed up against Menz’s but the lower halves of their bodies are not shown. Both are smiling.
CNN said Lindsay and Jeremy Menz moved to Texas in 2014. Lindsay Menz is a stay-at-home-mom of three young children. Neither, they said, is registered with a political party. She said she has equally supported Republican and Democratic candidates. Jeremy Menz told the network that he has leaned Republican. The couple voted last year for Donald Trump, and Menz said she has voted for Klobuchar, a Democrat.
Star Tribune staff writers Maya Rao and Hannah Covington contributed to this report.