Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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ST. PAUL — Former women staffers of U.S. Sen. Al Franken said he treated them well, the woman who accused him of sexual harassment does not think he should resign and some of his long-time supporters are struggling with accepting of his actions. The Democratic Minnesota senator remained out of the public eye Friday, Nov. 17, and released no statements the day after a Los Angeles radio host accused him of forcibly kissing her during a show rehearsal and having his picture taken looking like he is groping her breasts while she slept at the end of a USO tour.
ST. PAUL — Criticizing sexual harassment is easy, but coming up with a solution is tough. "If women could fix the problem on their own, it would have been done already," Lucy Kennedy of West St. Paul said Friday, Nov. 17 as about 100 people gathered at a Minnesota Capitol rally against sexual harassment. "There just aren't enough women elected," she told Forum News Service, and a culture remains that allows men to deal with women inappropriately.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota is far from the only state in which legislators stand accused of sexual harassment. Reports have surfaced in states coast to coast about women lawmakers, legislative staffers and lobbyists saying they have been harassed. Stateline.org reports that women in at least 16 states have made the allegations: Minnesota, South Dakota, California, Illinois, Colorado, Kentucky, Oregon, Vermont, Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Washington
ST. PAUL — Some of the strongest comments against U.S. Sen. Al Franken's inappropriate 2006 behavior toward a female entertainer came from members of his own Democratic-Farm-Labor Party. "We are incredibly disappointed in Sen. Franken," DFL Chairman Ken Martin said after West Coast broadcaster Leeann Tweeden posted on Facebook her story about the 2006 USO tour she and Franken were on. Martin said as sexual allegation reports across the country add up that "it becomes even clearer how pervasive sexual harassment is throughout our society."
ST. PAUL — Minnesota House members who refuse to take sex harassment prevention training may have a whole lot of time on their hands. House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said on Thursday, Nov. 16, that while he cannot fire House members, he will remove their committee membership if they do not get take the training. Without committee work, members would have little to do for most of a legislative session since committee meetings eat up most of lawmakers' time.
ST. PAUL — Al Franken has faced allegations of improperly treating women before. In 2008, just before Franken won his first Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party endorsement to be U.S. senator, complaints arose about his writing objectionable jokes and book passages, including jokes about rape. The state party convention in June of that year endorsed him with 62 percent support, but some delegates were concerned. "They don't like distractions," then-state Sen. Keith Langseth, D-Glyndon, said of his constituents. "I'm a little uneasy about it."
ST. PAUL — Minnesota legislative leaders say they will limp along to the 2018 legislative session by taking money from a House-Senate commission. But, they said, they will need to immediately pass a legislative budget once they return to St. Paul Feb. 20. The comments came Thursday, Nov. 16, just after the Minnesota Supreme Court allowed to stand Gov. Mark Dayton's veto of the Legislature's $130 million two-year budget.
ST. PAUL—Minnesotans soon may know if their Legislature can stay in business. The state Supreme Court plans to release an opinion at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, on a lawsuit challenging Gov. Mark Dayton's veto of legislative funding.
ST. PAUL — The U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether a Minnesota law banning political items in and near polling places violates free speech rights. The high court announced Monday, Nov. 13, that it accepted the Minnesota Voters Alliance appeal from the 8th U.S.Circuit Court of Appeals, which had upheld the law. The alliance sued several Twin Cities election officials and Secretary of State Steve Simon. It is one of three free speech cases the court put on its docket for early 2018.
MINNEAPOLIS—The Minnesota Legislature has been relatively free of sex-related scandals, which is one reason why recent harassment allegations came as a bit of a surprise to some. The difference between a scandal five years ago and a couple in recent days shows how times have changed. After then-Rep. Kerry Gauthier of Duluth was caught in 2012 having oral sex with a 17-year-old boy at a rest area, there were no immediate calls for his resignation.