EMILY’s List president: Franken did 'right thing for Minnesota'

EMILY’s List president: Franken did 'right thing for Minnesota'
© Greg Nash

Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart Franken#BelieveAllWomen, in the Ellison era, looks more like #BelieveTheConvenientWomen The Hill's Morning Report — GOP seeks to hold Trump’s gains in Midwest states Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries MORE did the “right thing” to heed Democratic colleagues who urged his resignation from the Senate in the wake of sexual misconduct accusations, according to his former campaign manager, EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock.

During an interview for The Hill’s Power Politics podcast, Schriock said, “When it was clear that his colleagues were like, ‘It’s time,’ he was going to do the right thing for Minnesota. And that’s what he did.”

Schriock has remained close to Franken and his wife since she was tapped in the summer of 2008 to help rescue his floundering bid to defeat a popular incumbent, GOP Sen. Norm Coleman. She took a leave of absence from her chief of staff job with Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterSenate gets to work in August — but many don’t show up Pearl Jam criticized for poster featuring dead Trump, burning White House Montana GOP Senate hopeful touts Trump's support in new ad MORE of Montana to become Franken’s campaign manager, helping him navigate voters’ questions about his unpaid taxes and jokes about women he made during his career in comedy.

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Serving now as the influential leader of the nation’s largest resource organization for women in politics, Schriock said Franken’s decision to leave the chamber she and other Democrats labored to help him join was the right call.

“You know when your colleagues are making it clear that it’s time,” Schriock said. “No bad behavior should be accepted. This was a trying time and a complicated time, I think, obviously for the Senate and for those women who were willing to step up and share their stories.”

She commended Franken for serving Minnesotans “incredibly well,” but declined to discuss any advice she may have offered the former senator. “I’ve known him for a long time,” she added.

A veteran of Democratic political campaigns and fundraising, Schriock took the reins as president of EMILY’s List in 2010. The organization, whose name is an acronym for “early money is like yeast,” supports pro-choice, Democratic women candidates, raising tens of millions of dollars to recruit and train them, and to mobilize voters to elect them.

Franken was accused last year by seven women of unwanted physical contact and offensive behavior. He apologized but was unable to mount a persuasive public defense as women continued to step forward with descriptions of unwanted kissing, groping and crude remarks. After a powerful phalanx of Democratic women senators urged Franken to resign, he delivered an emotional speech on the Senate floor and announced he would step down.

The sudden exit by the second-term senator stunned members of his party who believed the former entertainer-turned-lawmaker might be a future presidential candidate. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) appointed Democrat Tina SmithTina Flint SmithOvernight Health Care: Senate takes up massive HHS spending bill next week | Companies see no sign of drugmakers cutting prices, despite Trump claims | Manchin hits opponent on ObamaCare lawsuit Companies report no signs of drugmakers cutting prices, despite Trump pledge Election Countdown: GOP worries House majority endangered by top of ticket | Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries | Parties fight for Puerto Rican vote in Florida | GOP lawmakers plan 'Freedom Tour' MORE, the lieutenant governor, to replace Franken, and she was sworn in as the state’s junior senator on Jan. 3.

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Following Franken’s resignation, several Democratic colleagues publicly complained that although he sought an ethics investigation to examine the accusations, the verdict in the Capitol was swift, as sexual harassment charges roared through institutions and workplaces worldwide.

Schriock said a “safe process” is needed for accusers and the accused. She offered no specific recommendations.

“It brings up a real conversation about process,” she said. “If we don’t come on the other side of this with solutions to make sure that there is a safe process for the women and the men … then we will fail,” she said.

“If we don’t get to that place in Congress, and in Hollywood, and in corporate America, then we’re never going to get to that place where the waitress or the women on the factory floor has any chance of having a safe workplace where she doesn’t have to worry about sexual harassment.”

Power Politics, hosted by The Hill’s Alexis Simendinger, airs Saturday mornings.