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At least four women have stepped forward to accuse Democratic Sen. Al Franken of sexual harassment. Our "Political Insiders" are divided along partisan lines whether Franken should resign from the Senate.

On Monday, Franken apologized for the groping allegations against him. Franken has called for a Senate ethics investigation into his actions and said he's open to making the results of that investigation public.

Not surprisingly, the Republicans on our "Political Insider" panel think Franken should step down from his seat, while Democrats and our readers disagree.

  • 64% of the Republicans who responded to our question said Franken should resign.

  • Only 19% of Democrats think Franken should step down as do 38% of our readers.

 

The numbers stand in contrast to last week's survey, where our "Insiders" overwhelmingly said Alabama Republican Roy Moore should drop out of the U.S. Senate race there following allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior toward teenagers when he was in his 30's.

Last week, former Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz suggested on Fox News that there should be a sort of "political death penalty" for public figures who engage in sexual misconduct. Chaffetz famously dropped his support for Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign following the "Access Hollywood" tapes where Trump was caught bragging about sexually assaulting married women, then announced he would vote for him anyway.

Our "Insider" panel does not think sexual misconduct should be disqualifying for holding public office. 

  • 51% of the Republicans who answered our question said sexual misconduct should not keep someone from holding public office.

  • 67% of Democrats say engaging in sexual misconduct should not prevent someone from holding office.

  • However, 51% of our readers think sexual misconduct should bar someone from holding office.

 

Selected anonymous comments:

Certainly depends on the circumstances but I believe in second chances too.

This isn’t partisan and should not be seen as such. Republican/Democrat doesn’t matter. If you are a creep, you don’t deserve to be in office!

What is "sexual misconduct"? That is a very broad characterization. If you define what is included, I'll tell you if it is disqualifying conduct.

Al Franken should step down the second that Don Trump, Senior, steps down for allegations & self-confession of worse abuses.

If there is one thing we should all be able to agree on it is that, above partisan politics, we should elect the best men and women we can to serve our country. We fall short of the ideal, but we should expect our elected officials to clear this lowest level of decency - that they are not sexual offenders.

I think there is a distinction between offenses. Offenses against minors are non-negotiable, period. And if someone has a pattern of being a predator with adult victims, possibly yes. 

There are many gradations of "sexual misconduct," and they are not created equal. Suggesting that any variety of "sexual misconduct" automatically disqualifies someone from holding public office seems overbroad.

The voters should decide what should disqualify someone.

Sen. Franken was wise to call for an ethics investigation into himself. Because Franken is not facing the urgency of an immediate election (like some other folk in the news), he should be allowed to retain his seat until that ethics investigation is concluded and, depending on what the investigation determines, either resign his seat or choose to not seek re-election.

We need to cut the crap. Politicians will only adhere to the standards that voters hold them to. Zero tolerance for such misconduct.

As much as I despise Al Franken, no he shouldn't resign...if nothing more comes out. Make the rules -- resignation -- going forward, not retroactive.

Please do not misunderstand, this objectionable and probably illegal behavior is awful. The only problem is what constitutes being worthy of the political "death penalty." Who is going to apply the standard to Congress, surely not the body itself? They act like they can't find their backsides with both hands when it comes to making reasonable decisions. The problem is that some of them have an easy time finding someone else's backside. Whoops!

There are degrees of rude and crude behavior and illegal behavior. Franken's were rude and crude, Moore's were probably illegal.

Congress needs to update their sexual harassment policy, so it’s not so cumbersome and keeps individuals from disclosing. I am confident there are many more potential accusations out there in the halls of Congress.

Al Franken should choose to step down, but if he does not, I'm not persuaded that he should be forced out.

Innocent until proven guilty. Do we allow an accusation to take the place of any legal process?

There’s a wide spectrum between boorish behavior and assault. All should be investigated.

Allegations of misconduct are not grounds for removal from office. The media is NOT a court of law. But, the voters constitute the "jury" that must decide whether a person is fit for public office, be they Roy Moore or Al Franken.

"Misconduct" is not sexual assault or violence, pedophilia, rape or abuse. Misconduct IMO does not involve aggressive physical contact.

Sexual predators have no business seeking, let alone holding, the public trust.

More dirt will come out on Al Franken just like it has on everyone else. He should get out now and beat the rush.

Chaffetz is hardly the moral compass. He voted for Trump despite his numerous sexual assault/harassment allegations, so if he wants a "death penalty," he should start at the top of his party.

Allegations of misconduct are just that allegations. If convicted, then they should be disqualified or resign. Innocent until proven guilty is an underpinning that shouldn’t be brushed away.

As long as Trump is President, people can grope and engage in misconduct. If the GOP gets rid of Trump for his misconduct, then let's have a discussion. Until then, double standards are at play.

It’s amazing the lack of clamor from liberals against Franken compared to the outrage against any Republican caught doing the same thing.

Taking responsibility for your actions, apologizing, and offering to testify before an ethics committee, as Franken has done, is far different from Pres. Trump, who has done none of those things, nor has Roy Moore, a known pedophile. The specifics of each situation should be considered before determining whether someone should be disqualified from office.

If allegations against Franken prove he did as he has been accused then yes he should resign, but the same goes for Trump and Roy Moore.

Pattern and severity along with victim attitude should factor in.

Franken is being targeted to discredit #MeToo and the fight against sexual harassment. It's a Roger Stone hit job.

If we don’t hold the president to this standard how do we hold the Congress to it?

Franken should step down only because Moore is being told to back off. However, witch hunts of all manner need to stop. We're not electing Sunday School Boards here. Provided the shenanigans fall within the law, let them keep their jobs.

Innocent until proven guilty or an admission of guilt.

Franken has admitted wrongdoing and apologized. And yes, what he did was wrong. But HE has asked for an ethics investigation and deserves his 'day in court'. I'd like Chaffetz to quit talking about the Clinton's for five minutes and discuss the multiple allegations against Trump and Moore.

There is a difference between allegations and convictions. We are innocent until proven guilty. At least that's how it used to be.

Al Franken's behavior is not on the same level as Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore, or even what Trump himself has admitted to and is accused of. There are degrees of this behavior.

No, Franken shouldn’t resign. In the Democratic Party, he should become President!

Way too early to judge Franken. Ultimately, Minnesota voters will decide. The rest of us will be subjected to never-ending media bludgeoning. And, too much gray area about just what sexual misconduct is to invoke the Chaffetz rule. Just how would that work exactly, Jason?

Until further details are available, the context of actions must be considered. If the accusers are minors, then we need to address the issue differently. Knee-jerk reactions will achieve nothing in the long run.

Let's start with criminal misconduct, and work our way down to rumors.

Interesting comment from Chaffetz. He resigned so he wouldn't have to actually do some good by investigating Trump. Does he think the President should step down? Jason is both gutless and full of himself at the same time. Funny how that can happen.

Congress would never approve a political "death penalty" because many of them would be signing their own "death warrant" by so doing. Certainly, Trump would never sign it because he is a shining example of sexual misconduct.

I'm a lot more worried about financial misconduct and conflicts of interests.

It depends on the misconduct. Rape, no more career, a little flirting, no penalty.

Methinks Jason doth protest too much.

A political "death penalty?" What does that even mean? Choice words from the same Jason Chaffetz who de-endorsed and endorsed Donald Trump in the same month? We've learned through the years from both Rs and Ds that party tribe "Trumps" human decency.

If the sexual misconduct is known before the election, it should absolutely be taken into account and, depending on the severity of the incident, stepping down would be in order. I don’t believe the accusations against Franken warrant stepping down.

This is a moment in history when women are being believed and starting now, and into the future maybe an understanding of zero tolerance can be instituted in a fair consequential way.

Let me clarify. If misconduct is criminal, then the legislator or candidate must step down. Sexual harassment is not tolerable. Legislators that do so in office should lose their job. However, I am uncomfortable with the notion that any person is required to give up job or liberties based on allegations that haven't been adjudicated. I don't want to make it easy to oust political opponents by finding or manufacturing charges of past indiscretion without an impartial hearing and due process. Trial by social media greatly alarms me.

The allegations against Franken are being lumped in with Moore. They should not be and are totally different. Franken has apologized. This should be sufficient.