Grassley Campaign Statement on Franken Assault Allegations

WEST DES MOINES — Grassley Works Communications Director Michaela Sundermann released the following statement after Iowa Field Report published details of an alleged assault by U.S. Senate Democrat nominee Mike Franken on his former campaign manager, after she signed a nondisclosure agreement that would prevent her from making disparaging remarks against him.

“These reports are clearly disturbing. Victims deserve a chance to be heard, and it’s wrong to pressure them to keep silent. Franken’s alleged victim should have an opportunity to be heard and to defend her good name. Any candidate for office accused of unwanted advances or inappropriate behavior owes voters a clear and honest explanation. So far, Mike Franken has only issued blanket denials—effectively calling his own former campaign manager a liar—but he’s yet to address the specific charges in the police report. He has misleadingly said the report was ‘unfounded,’ but he knows that doesn’t mean the incident didn’t occur. This legal classification only speaks to the level of evidence needed for the Des Moines Police Department to investigate a crime. Because his alleged victim is under a nondisclosure agreement, according to the police report, Iowans are only hearing one side of the story. Iowans deserve to know the full story, including why he and his lawyers allegedly attempted to silence the victim and her spouse. If the allegations are false, as Mike Franken claims, then there is no reason to prevent his staff from speaking freely so Iowans can determine for themselves what is credible. Hiding behind nondisclosure agreements and blanket denials is unacceptable for a candidate seeking to earn the public trust.”

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the Speak Out Act, a bill which Senator Grassley cosponsored, which guarantees that survivors of sexual assault or harassment can’t be barred from discussing their experiences because of a previously-signed nondisclosure agreement. The bill complements the success of the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, which ensures that arbitration agreements can’t prevent survivors of sexual assault and harassment from seeking justice in court. As reported by Reuters: “The Speak Out Act was introduced in July, a few months after Congress passed a bill supported by business groups that bans the enforcement of mandatory arbitration agreements in cases involving sexual harassment and assault. Tens of millions of workers have signed agreements requiring the arbitration of legal disputes, and the new law is one of the most impactful policy changes to come out of the #MeToo movement.”