Al Franken, the former Senator from Minnesota, is preparing to a launch a speaking tour, his first public events since resigning from office last year after numerous allegations of inappropriate touching.
Franken has not publicly announced the tour, although numerous events across the country have been linked to his Facebook profile in the past few days.
A Facebook event for “An Evening with Al Franken” at the Wilbur theater in Boston came online yesterday. Tickets go on sale Friday, with prices ranging from $58 to $100. Since then, similar event page have appeared on Facebook for theaters in Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington. The dates in Boston and Portland are only two days apart, October 2nd and 4th respectively, implying that the tour will be relatively busy and that many stops are still to be announced.
Franken served as the senator from Minnesota from 2009 to 2018, until a dramatic fall from grace that began in the fall of 2017 when a radio personality accused him of coroceing her into a kiss during a 2006 USO tour. Within two weeks of the initial allegation and on the heels of the then-burgeoning #MeToo movement, seven additional women came forward to make similar allegations of inappropriate behavior. Franken was called on to resign by his fellow Senators, and announced his intention to do so on December 7th, 2017. He vacated his seat to Tina Smith on January 2nd, 2018.
Franken's resignation—and the pressure exerted on him to do so by party activists and fellow Senators—has remained a source of tension in the party. Just last week, former Majority Leader Harry Reid told an interviewer that he wishes Franken would run again. The first Senator to call on him to resign, Kristen Gillibrand, has faced continuing criticism from donors. Last month, Jane Mayer’s profile on an exiled Franken revealed numerous inconsistencies in the initial allegation against Franken, and made a compelling case that the accuser’s motivation was at least partially politically-driven. However, while her piece was promoted by Franken allies as vindication and evidence the Democratic caucus made a mistake on calling for him to resign, it did nothing to dispel the seven other allegations, all of which remain consistent and credible.
Franken, for his part, is becoming increasingly vocal since an initial period of silence following his resignation. Beyond cooperating with Mayer on her profile (Franken told Mayer he “absolutely” regrets resigning from the Senate), Franken has also started a podcast and become an active blogger. This tour would represent a massive leap forward in his public profile, his first series of appearances since the allegation and his first paid tour since his days as a comedian. It is also the most prominent step back into the public arena for a man accused of sexual misconduct during the initial wave of #MeToo allegations.
“Since I left,” Franken wrote on the event’s description, “I’ve had so many folks ask me to re-enter the fray. Fray, here I am!”
I’ve put in a request for comment to Franken’s office, and will update this article if I hear back.