The 2017 United States political sexual scandals are a string of allegations of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment and sexual assault, and subsequent firings and resignations of American politicians in 2017. The allegations are part of the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations in starting in October 2017.
Allegations against members of the United States Senate
Al Franken (D–MN)
United States Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, on November 16, 2017, was accused by media personality Leeann Tweeden, who wrote in a blog post that during a USO tour in 2006, Franken forcibly kissed her without her consent as part of a rehearsal for a USO skit. She wrote that he "put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth ... I felt disgusted and violated." Franken was also photographed appearing to grope her breasts while she was seated and sleeping on an aircraft wearing Interceptor Body Armor and a helmet. In response Franken said, "I certainly don't remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann ... As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn't. I shouldn't have done it." A few hours later, Franken issued a longer apology, which Tweeden accepted.
Senate leaders Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer sent the information to the Senate Ethics Committee for review, a decision supported by members of both parties including Franken himself. The next day, Abby Honold, who had worked with Franken to introduce legislation that would provide training to law enforcement interviewing victims of trauma, requested that Franken withdraw his name as the sponsor of that bill. Honold was raped by a former Franken intern. Franken complied and Senator Amy Klobuchar took over the bill's sponsorship.
On November 20, 2017, Lindsay Menz accused Franken of touching her clothed buttocks while the two posed for a photo at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010. In a statement responding to the allegation, Franken said, "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." Later, two more women accused Franken of similar misconduct during political events in 2007 and 2008, incidents Franken said he also did not remember. Some liberal groups and commentators, including the Indivisible movement and Sally Kohn, called on Franken to resign because of these allegations. Franken issued another apology on November 23, 2017, stating, "I've met tens of thousands of people and taken thousands of photographs, often in crowded and chaotic situations. I'm a warm person; I hug people. I've learned from recent stories that in some of those encounters, I crossed a line for some women — and I know that any number is too many." A fifth woman, Stephanie Kemplin, alleged Franken touched her breast while posing for a photo with her during a 2003 USO tour. She is the second person to allege that such behavior took place while Franken was on a USO tour.
On December 7, he announced his plan to resign from the Senate.
Allegations against members of the United States House of Representatives
John Conyers (D–MI)
Dean of the United States House of Representatives Congressman John Conyers of Michigan was found to have allegedly paid a settlement of $27,000 to a former member of his staff, who had accused him of sexual assault. BuzzFeed reported on this settlement on November 20, 2017, including accounts of other ethical concerns associated with Conyers's office such as sexual harassment of other female staffers. Conyers responded to these reports, saying, "In our country, we strive to honor this fundamental principle that all are entitled to due process. In this case, I expressly and vehemently denied the allegations made against me, and continue to do so. My office resolved the allegations — with an express denial of liability — in order to save all involved from the rigors of protracted litigation."
On November 21, 2017, the House Ethics Committee launched an investigation into multiple sexual harassment allegations against Conyers. Reports of a second woman accusing Conyers of sexual harassment appeared later in November 2017. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who had initially stated that Conyers was an "icon" and had done a great deal to protect women, called upon Conyers to resign, and called the allegations against him "very credible", as did House Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn.
On December 5, he resigned from Congress.
Blake Farenthold (R–TX)
Congressman Blake Farenthold of Texas was discovered to have paid $84,000 to a former member of his staff after she accused him of sexually assaulting her.
He announced his retirement on December 15.
Trent Franks (R–AZ)
It was reported on December 7, 2017 that Congressman Trent Franks of Arizona was the subject of a House Ethics Committee investigation over allegations of improper conduct. On December 7, 2017, Franks announced that he would resign on December 8, 2017. According to a report in the Washington Post, Franks and his wife were struggling with infertility and Franks had asked two female staffers if they would consider serving as surrogate mothers for Franks and his wife. Franks maintained that he never "physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff."
Alcee Hastings (D–FL)
On December 8, it was discovered that $200,000, of taxpayers money, had been given to a former staff member of Congressman Alcee Hastings of Florida, after she accused him of sexually harassing her.
Ruben Kihuen (D–NV)
Congressman Ruben Kihuen of Nevada was accused by a former staffer on the Kihuen campaign of repeatedly propositioning her for dates and sex. When asked about the accusations, Kihuen said, "I sincerely apologize for anything that I may have said or done that made her feel uncomfortable.” The chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Ben Ray Luján, and Nancy Pelosi, said that he should resign.
On December 16, he announced he would not seek re-election.
Eric Massa (D–NY)
It was revealed that secret payments, totaling $100,000, had been made to two men who had accused Congressman Eric Massa of New York of sexually harassing them. Massa resigned from Congress in 2010 after being accused of sexually harassing male members of his staff.
Pat Meehan (R–PA)
On January 20, 2018, it was revealed that Congressman Pat Meehan of Pennsylvania used taxpayers money to settle a sexual harassment claim brought by a former member of staff. Meehan also allegedly grew hostile after the alleged victim rejected his advances. Meehan was soon removed from the U.S. House Ethics Committee.
Allegations against federal judges
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Alex Kozinski, facing multiple accounts of sexual harassment against women announced his immediate resignation.
Allegations against state politicians
- State Representative Don Shooter (R) was accused of sexually harassing nine women, including several fellow state representatives, and was removed as chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee. He has not resigned.
- State Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra (D) was accused of sexually harassing various women. He resigned later that week.
- State Assemblyman Matt Dababneh (D) was accused of sexually harassing two female lobbyists. He later announced his resignation effective the end of the year.
- State Assemblyman Devon Mathis (R) was being investigated for an alleged sexual assault against a female member of his staff.
- State Senator Tony Mendoza (D) was accused of inviting young female staffers to his residence in Sacramento for sexual activity.
- State Senator Robert Hertzberg (D) was put under investigation after being accused of unwanted hugging by two female lawmakers and former State Assemblywoman Linda Halderman (R).
- State Senator Randy Baumgardner (R) has been accused of sexual harassment by a former intern.
- State Senator Jack Tate (R) has been accused of sexual harassment by a former intern.
- State Representative Steve Lebsock (D) has been accused of sexual assault by fellow Democratic State Representative Faith Winter.
- State Representative Paul Rosenthal (D) has been accused of sexual assault by several young men.
- State Representative Ritch Workman (R) resigned as the nominee for the Florida Public Service Commission after being accused of sexual harassment.
- State Senator Jack Latvala (R) was accused in November 2017, by six women who accused Latvala of sexually harassing them. These accusations came from female staffers from both parties, as well as lobbyists. Photos also surfaced from a private investigator of Latvala kissing a lobbyist on the lips. The women's complaints describe repeated encroachment by Latvala onto their bodies. He has subsequently been removed from his position as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee in response to the allegations.
- Florida Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Bittel resigned after accusations of sexual impropriety from numerous women.
- State Representative Brandon Hixon (R) resigned after being accused of sexual abuse. He killed himself in January 9, 2018.
- State Senator Ira Silverstein (D) was accused of sexual harassment, and resigned from his position as Majority Caucus Chair.
- Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives Jeff Hoover (R) resigned from his position as Speaker after it had been revealed he had settled a case involving alleged sexual harassment.
- State Representative Dan Johnson (R) was accused of molesting a 17-year-old girl during a New Year's Eve party. Johnson denied this accusation, refused to resign, and killed himself on December 13, 2017.
- State Senator Dan Schoen (D) was accused of sexually harassing various women. He announced his resignation the next day.
- State Representative Tony Cornish (R) was accused by fellow State Representative Erin Maye Quade (D) and another woman of sexually harassing them. He resigned the next day.
- State Representative John Moore (R) resigned from office after accusations of sexual misconduct from multiple women.
- State Assemblyman Steven McLaughlin (R) was sanctioned by the Speaker of the Assembly for allegedly asking an Assembly staffer for nude photos and lying to investigators after the staffer came forward.
- New York City Councilman Andy King (D) has been accused by a staffer in a complaint to the city council's Standards and Ethics Committee of making sexually suggestive comments.
- State Senator Cliff Hite (R) was accused of repeatedly propositioning a state employee for sex. He resigned a week later.
- State Senator Jeff Kruse (R) was removed from all of his Senate committee assignments by Senate President Peter Courtney. An article in The Oregonian indicated that Kruse had been accused of inappropriate touching and had failed to resolve ongoing workplace issues. The removal came days after Senator Sara Gelser indicated she had been inappropriately touched by Kruse. Senator Ginny Burdick supported Gelser's allegations, calling Kruse's behavior a "chronic problem", recalling an incident where she had to tell Kruse to get his hands off of Gelser and another incident where Kruse had inappropriately touched a female staffer on the Senate floor.
- State Senator Daylin Leach (D) has been accused of sexual misconduct. Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Wolf (D) has called for his resignation.
- State Senator Borris Miles (D) has been accused of sexually harassing various women over a period of years.
- State Senator Carlos Uresti (D) has been accused of sexually harassing various women over a period of years.
- State Assemblyman Josh Zepnick (D) was accused of sexually harassing two women. He apologised for his behaviour, but refused to resign.
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