A group of women who previously worked for Saturday Night Live have come together to support Sen. Al Franken, who admitted to forcibly kissing broadcaster Leeann Tweeden in 2006. A second woman has come forward with allegations that he groped her while taking a photo at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010, prompting several other politicians to call for his resignation as a senator.
In a letter obtained by NBC News, the former staffers say they felt "compelled to stand up for Al Franken, whom we have all had the pleasure of working with over the years on Saturday Night Live." Franken was a writer and occasional performer on the series from 1975 to 1980 and again from 1985 to 1995.
The letter's authors acknowledged that what Franken did to Tweeden was "stupid and foolish" and that he should apologize to her and the public, and then went on to defend him citing their own positive experiences with him. "We know Al as a devoted and dedicated family man, a wonderful comedic performer, and an honorable public servant," the letter continued.
"That is why we are moved to quickly and directly affirm that after years of working with him, we would like to acknowledge that not one of us ever experienced any inappropriate behavior; and mention our sincere appreciation that he treated each of us with the utmost respect and regard."
According to New York Magazine and Huffington Post reporter Yashir Ali, the letter was signed by 36 women including former staff writers Cindy Caponera and Bonnie Turner; script coordinator Claire Shirey, who has been with SNL since 1982; and former Weekend Update coordinating producer Suzanne Rosenberg
See their full statement below.
JUST IN: Women staff of "Saturday Night Live" sign letter in support of Sen. Al Franken pic.twitter.com/osN6IwMgvB— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 21, 2017
36 women who worked with Al Franken on SNL have signed a letter of support...I would not be surprised if this has a chilling effect on women speaking out. It was shameful when Fox News hosts did this for Roger Ailes and this letter, at this time, is highly inappropriate. pic.twitter.com/qhuD6MDtpS— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) November 21, 2017
Following the allegations made by Tweeden, Franken publically apologized for his actions. "The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women," he said, according to The New York Times.
He added, "I respect women. I don't respect men who don't... And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed."
The Minnesota senator has yet to address the most recent accusations made by Lindsay Menz.