The Senate Ethics Committee has begun looking into the allegations against Sen. Al Franken, according to a statement from the committee issued Thursday.
“While the committee does not generally comment on pending matters or matters that may come before it, in this instance, the Committee is publicly confirming that it has opened a preliminary inquiry into Senator Franken’s alleged misconduct,” according to a statement jointly released by Sens. Johnny Isakson, Chris Coons, Pat Roberts, Jim Risch, Brian Schatz and Jeanne Shaheen.
Franken faces numerous allegations of sexual misconduct, including one incident shared by an accuser who came forward earlier Thursday. Stephanie Kemplin, a 41-year-old Army veteran, told CNN that Franken cupped her breast during a photo op while she was deployed in Kuwait.
Prior to Kemplin coming forward, multiple other women had shared experiences in which they say the Democratic senator from Minnesota groped them.
The accusations began when morning news anchor Leeann Tweeden said Franken groped and kissed her during a USO tour in 2006.
Regarding the accusation by Kemplin, a Franken spokesperson told CNN Wednesday night, “As Sen. Franken made clear this week, he takes thousands of photos and has met tens of thousands of people and he has never intentionally engaged in this kind of conduct. He remains fully committed to cooperating with the ethics investigation.”
In a news conference on Capitol Hill this week, CNN asked Franken why he was unable to answer the question of whether more women could come forward with allegations of sexual harassment.
“If you had asked me two weeks ago, would any woman come forward with an allegation like this, I would have said no,” Franken said. “And so I cannot speculate. This has been a shock, and it’s been extremely humbling. I am embarrassed. I feel ashamed.”