Congress

Former Sen. Al Franken giving speech in Oregon in latest move to revamp public image

Minnesota Democrat has said he regrets resigning in 2018 following sexual misconduct allegations

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., is hosting a speaking event in Portland, Oregon, in October. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Sen. Al Franken is hosting a speaking event in Portland, Oregon, in October where he will share stories of his time in the Senate and as a cast member of  “Saturday Night Live.”

The former Democratic-Farmer-Labor senator from Minnesota has undertaken a series of moves in recent months to reenter the public eye, including launching a podcast and corresponding YouTube channel, creating a website with a collection of his writings and thoughts on the political landscape and now hosting paid speaking events.

The most expensive tickets for “An Evening with Al Franken” in Portland on Oct. 2 are $89.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune first reported the speaking engagement.

Franken resigned in 2018 over several allegations of sexual misconduct. He has since said that he regrets stepping away from office so quickly.

“Oh, yeah. Absolutely,” he told The New Yorker earlier this summer, when asked if he regretted resigning before a Senate Ethics Committee investigation played out.

Seven other Democratic senators who called for Franken to resign told The New Yorker — in the same article reexamining one of the allegations against Franken — that they wish they had heard his side of the story before casting him aside.

“If there’s one decision I’ve made that I would take back, it’s the decision to call for his resignation,” former North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said. “It was made in the heat of the moment, without concern for exactly what this was.”

Franken’s exit from the Senate was one of the first major shock waves from the #MeToo movement to hit Washington after the New York Times published a watershed article highlighting decades of sexual assault accusations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

By December of 2017, eight women — some of whom still remain anonymous — came forward accusing Franken of unwanted touching and kissing.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York threatened that unless Franken resigned, he would be censured by his party and possibly stripped of his committee assignments.

In announcing his resignation on Dec. 7, Franken said that many of the allegations made against him in recent weeks were “simply not true.” Other instances, he said, he remembered “very differently.”

The Minnesota Democrat officially stepped down on Jan. 2, 2018.

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