Former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson came to Sen. Al Franken's defense Sunday when he posted a commentary to his blog that said he is "deeply troubled by the resignation of Al Franken and the complete absence of anything resembling due process."
Carlson, an independent-minded Republican who endorsed the presidential bids of Barack Obama in 2008 and Hillary Clinton in 2016, was elected governor in 1990 and served until 1999.
Carlson asserted 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."
That closely watched race, in which President Donald Trump endorsed Republican Roy Moore despite multiple allegations that he engaged in improper sexual conduct, goes to Alabama voters on Tuesday.
In his commentary, Carlson cites the surfacing of reports saying that Franken's main accuser, Leeann Tweeden, "may have been coached by Roger Stone, a major Trump operator," and he describes the unknown facts around the case as "very troubling."
In an e-mail, Stone said he has "never met, spoken with or communicated with LeeAnn Tweeden. I learned about her coming accusations against Sen. Franken and reported them on InfoWars and BigLeaguePolitics.com about six hours before she went public. It appears that Gov. Carlson, for whom I have a very high regard, is misinformed."
The ex-governor's comments coincide with a backlash against the growing tide of a #metoo movement that has swept dozens of high-profile men out of positions of power in recent months over allegations of sexual misconduct. Those critical of the pressure for Franken to resign have been both conservatives and some liberal feminists.
"A rush to judgment is, unfortunately, all too human," Carlson wrote Sunday. "But a rush to punishment is totally unacceptable."
He prefaced his remarks about Franken with a personal anecdote about his being wrongly accused of school vandalism by police when he was a sixth-grader in the Bronx in New York.
"While I am not always in agreement with Senator Al Franken, I firmly believe in due process which is a cornerstone of our democratic way of living. He was elected by we, the people, and he should continue to serve until a legal determination has been made."