Ex-Bush ethics official to run for Franken's former Senate seat as Dem: report

Richard Painter, the former chief ethics lawyer for the George W. Bush administration, is expected to announce on Monday he will run as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate seat previously held by Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenMeet the Democrats' last best hope of preserving a House majority Franken rules out challenge against Gillibrand for Senate seat Franken targets senators from both parties in new comedy tour MORE (D-Minn.). 

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported Sunday that Painter, who has been a frequent critic of President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer chairman of Wisconsin GOP party signals he will comply with Jan. 6 committee subpoena Overnight Defense & National Security — Pentagon tells Russia to stand down Billionaire GOP donor maxed out to Manchin following his Build Back Better opposition MORE, recently filed paperwork with federal elections officials to run against Sen. Tina SmithTina Flint SmithOvernight Energy & Environment — High court will hear case on water rule Biden comments add momentum to spending bill's climate measures  Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans MORE (D-Minn.), who replaced Franken in January.

Painter launched a campaign website in recent days, and his campaign’s Twitter page identifies him as “running for U.S. Senate in Minnesota.”

Painter is scheduled to hold a press conference on Monday at the state Capitol to announce his plans.

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Franken resigned from the Senate following a series of allegations of sexual misconduct, including that he groped women without their consent.

Smith, who previously served as lieutenant governor, has already said she intends to run to maintain the seat in November.

State Sen. Karin Housley (R-Minn.) has already declared her candidacy on the Republican side.

The winner of November’s election will serve out the remainder of Franken’s term, which runs though 2020. 

Painter set up an exploratory committee last month to weigh a potential run. He indicated at the time that he was unsure if he’d run as a Republican, Democrat or Independent.

He has made regular appearances on cable news programs since Trump took office to criticize the president's rhetoric and his administration's practices.