Two senators sworn into office amid #MeToo movement

Two new senators who were sworn into office Wednesday -- Doug Jones of Alabama and Tina Smith of Minnesota -- have on...

Posted: Jan 4, 2018 7:37 AM
Updated: Jan 4, 2018 7:37 AM

Two new senators who were sworn into office Wednesday -- Doug Jones of Alabama and Tina Smith of Minnesota -- have one thing in common.

Both Democrats may owe their new place in Congress to the #MeToo movement.

Tina Smith replaces Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota

Doug Jones replaces Sen. Luther Strange of Alabama

Smith, Minnesota's lieutenant governor, replaced former Sen. Al Franken, who resigned from the Senate after confronting multiple allegations of inappropriate touching and kissing. And Jones, a former federal prosecutor who had a historic victory against Republican nominee Roy Moore, may not have been able to pull off such an unlikely win had his opponent not been accused of molesting and pursuing young women years ago.

Gloria Allred, the high-profile lawyer who represented one of Moore's accusers and a slew of other women who have made allegations against powerful men, including President Donald Trump, told CNN in a phone interview Wednesday that "there's no more business as usual when it comes to sexual harassment."

"Women speaking out had an impact on institutional change and in the court of public opinion and it has created a climate in which sexual harassment is unacceptable. And it has caused change," Allred said. "Were it not for this movement building, Al Franken would never have had to step down and I think that Roy Moore would have been elected. So it has had an impact in the halls of power."

Smith and Jones come to Washington at a moment when the nation's capital is being rocked by the #MeToo movement that has swept the country.

Following the dramatic fall of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein after multiple sexual harassment and assault allegations, women and men across the country have spoken out to share their own stories of sexual harassment and abuse, using the hashtag #MeToo. The flood of allegations has taken down, at an unprecedented pace, powerful figures in Hollywood, media and other industries and the hashtag has become shorthand for the cultural and societal reckoning sweeping the globe.

The movement appears to have arrived on Capitol Hill, too. Over the past few months, lawmakers have called for an overhaul of the way sexual harassment complaints are handled and processed on Capitol Hill, and drawn attention to what many say is a pervasive culture of sexism and coercive workplace environment in Congress.

Over the past month, multiple male lawmakers have left office after facing sexual harassment accusations -- Franken, as well as Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, and Rep. Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican.

Two additional congressmen -- Ruben Kihuen, a Nevada Democrat, and Blake Farenthold, a Texas Republican -- are currently under House Ethics Committee investigations for allegations of sexual harassment. Both have said they will not seek re-election this year, but are opting to finish out their current terms.

Franken announced last month that he would leave office after multiple women said he had inappropriately touched them. In a Senate floor speech sharing his decision to leave Congress, the Minnesota Democrat and former "Saturday Night Live" comedian said some of the allegations leveled against him were simply untrue.

"Over the last few weeks, a number of women have come forward to talk about how they felt my actions had affected them. I was shocked. I was upset," Franken said. "But in responding to their claim, I also wanted to be respectful of that broader conversation. Because all women deserve to be heard and their experiences taken seriously."

But Franken added: "I also think it gave some people the false impression that I was admitting to doing things that in fact I haven't done. Some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others I remember very differently."

Moore was accused by multiple women of having pursued them when the women were teenagers and Moore was in his 30s. One woman said she was 14 years old when Moore initiated sexual contact with her.

Throughout his campaign against Jones, Moore repeatedly and emphatically denied the accusations.

"I did not know them," Moore said days before the Alabama special election of the women who have accused him of misconduct. "I had no encounter with them. I never molested anyone, and for them to say that, I don't know why they're saying it, but it's not true."

Lawmakers had hoped to introduce bipartisan sexual harassment legislation before the end of the year, but left town after failing to come to an agreement on final language. They now hope to bring up a bill for consideration early in the new year.

Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat and one of the lawmakers leading those efforts, told CNN last week that Congress shouldn't be allowed "to operate in a manner that protects the harasser and not the victim. This will change all of that."

Huntsville
Scattered Clouds
91° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 94°
Florence
Broken Clouds
88° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 92°
Fayetteville
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 88°
Decatur
Clear
89° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 91°
Scottsboro
Broken Clouds
90° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 95°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 56441

Reported Deaths: 1136
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson7012170
Mobile5061140
Montgomery4599112
Tuscaloosa274353
Madison25359
Marshall205012
Shelby176425
Lee164737
Morgan13975
Baldwin134111
Walker111332
Elmore107622
Etowah106914
Dallas10189
DeKalb10017
Franklin95016
Unassigned77728
Autauga71515
Russell7130
Chambers68530
Cullman6686
Limestone6653
Butler65529
Houston6417
Tallapoosa63069
Lauderdale6006
St. Clair5983
Calhoun5545
Colbert5286
Escambia5128
Lowndes49222
Pike4805
Jackson4422
Coffee4364
Covington43512
Talladega4177
Dale4061
Barbour4022
Bullock37810
Hale36323
Marengo36111
Chilton3452
Blount3311
Clarke3236
Wilcox3158
Marion30914
Winston3095
Sumter29713
Pickens2786
Randolph2759
Monroe2683
Perry2552
Conecuh2388
Bibb2271
Macon2229
Choctaw22012
Greene2009
Henry1573
Washington1529
Lawrence1460
Crenshaw1343
Cherokee1317
Geneva1010
Fayette901
Clay892
Lamar891
Coosa671
Cleburne481
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 65274

Reported Deaths: 749
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby14163224
Davidson13976146
Rutherford375539
Hamilton353538
Sumner204056
Williamson193916
Knox171710
Out of TN166012
Trousdale15105
Wilson126117
Putnam10817
Unassigned10772
Bradley10104
Robertson97313
Sevier9244
Montgomery8247
Tipton7177
Lake6960
Macon6467
Bledsoe6311
Bedford6309
Hamblen5084
Maury4993
Hardeman4444
Madison3842
Fayette3805
Rhea3500
Blount3483
Loudon3312
Dyer3023
McMinn29319
Cheatham2873
Dickson2820
Washington2760
Lawrence2506
Sullivan2485
Cumberland2294
Anderson2112
Gibson2031
Jefferson1931
Lauderdale1934
Smith1852
Warren1590
Greene1572
Monroe1566
Coffee1520
Cocke1460
Haywood1413
Hardin1407
Obion1273
Marshall1232
Wayne1230
Franklin1223
Giles1221
McNairy1171
Hickman1120
Carter1082
Marion1014
DeKalb990
Hawkins952
Lincoln950
White933
Roane880
Henderson830
Chester810
Overton791
Weakley791
Claiborne760
Campbell721
Grundy672
Crockett653
Unicoi600
Grainger590
Cannon580
Carroll571
Polk570
Henry540
Sequatchie520
Jackson500
Johnson490
Humphreys482
Perry430
Meigs400
Decatur350
Morgan341
Fentress290
Scott290
Union280
Stewart270
Clay230
Houston230
Moore230
Benton161
Hancock120
Lewis120
Van Buren90
Pickett80

 

 

Community Events