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Senate hopeful Franken denies kissing ex-staffer

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Iowa Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mike Franken answers media questions after a Monday campaign rally at The Olympic South Side Theatre in Cedar Rapids.  

CEDAR RAPIDS — Iowa Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mike Franken denied allegations he grabbed and kissed a former campaign staffer without her consent after the conservative news website Iowa Field Report detailed a police report alleging unwanted advances.

According to the report, the person, assumed to be Franken, grabbed the collar of the vest of a former female campaign staffer in March and kissed her on the mouth after meeting for drinks in Des Moines.

The assistant Polk County attorney found no criminal act had been established and closed the investigation as “unfounded.” No charges were filed.

The name of the person investigated was redacted from the police report, but the name of the woman making the complaint — Kimberly Strope-Boggus — was included.

Franken, though, told reporters at a Social Security Works town hall meeting in Cedar Rapids on Monday that he met with former campaign staffer Strope-Boggus, 43, that night “at her request,” after she reportedly had been fired from his campaign, and “I had a glass of beer.”

Franken repeatedly denied the allegations in the police report.

“It never happened,” Franken, 64, said.

He said he was not interviewed by police, who he said investigated the report and found the allegation “baseless.”

Morning drive through downtown Waterloo, Iowa, in the fog. Sept. 19, 2022. 2X speed

Franken accused Republicans of targeting him ahead of a critical midterm election. He is running against Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley.

“It is nonsense, but it’s kind of traditional for the Republicans to drum something like this up, right?” Franken said. “I’m surprised that they would come after a person like myself. But that’s fine, you know. That’s expected, I guess. And you know, I’m not at all surprised in many respects.”

Strope-Boggus did not return a message seeking comment.

‘No criminal intent’

The police report, which Strope-Boggus filed with Des Moines police April 12, states Assistant Polk County Attorney Meggan Guns determined there was insufficient evidence to “support that a criminal act occurred” and to pursue a criminal investigation.

Polk County Attorney John Sarcone, in a statement, said the Des Moines Police Department “investigated this matter as they would any other complaint.”

“The investigator determined there was no criminal intent on the part of the individual against whom the complaint was made,” Sarcone said.

According to the report, Strope-Boggus “did not describe any sexual intent (by Franken) nor any intent to harm either her or the other women.”

“Our attorney properly decided not to file a criminal charge because we could not establish there was criminal intent involved,” Sarcone said.

According to the police report, Strope-Boggus worked as a campaign manager for Franken’s 2020 U.S. Senate race when he lost to fellow Democrat Theresa Greenfield in the primary election.

Strope-Boggus began working for Franken again on his current U.S. Senate campaign until she and another staffer were fired.

On March 18, Strope-Boggus told police, she met Franken for drinks at the Dam Pub. When they left the bar, as they were walking to their vehicles, she said Franken “grabbed the collar of the vest she was wearing and kissed her on the mouth.”

According to the report, Strope-Boggus “pulled away,” and Franken “stopped the contact and walked away without saying anything further.”

Asked if she believed Franken grabbed and kissed her in an aggressive or sexual manner, Strope-Boggus told police no, according to the report.

Rather, Strope-Boggus described Franken’s behavior as “old school,” saying he has “1950s interactions with women,” and “she believes that he thinks kissing and hugging women is part of his charm.” She accused Franken of doing the same thing to other women.

Strope-Boggus told the investigator she told her wife about the kiss in April and decided to file the report after her wife advised her to report the kiss to police.

Strope-Boggus also alleges in the report that a day before her conversation with the investigator, Franken’s campaign contacted her attorney after she reposted negative comments from her wife on Twitter about Franken.

In the police report, Strope-Boggus said she signed a separation agreement with the Franken campaign that included a non-disparagement clause.

“These allegations are false,” Julie Stauch, Franken for Iowa campaign manager, said in a statement. “This accusation was investigated by the Des Moines Police Department and the Polk County Attorney’s Office, who found no wrongdoing and closed the case as unfounded.”

Candidates absent

Franken was in Cedar Rapids on Monday for a town hall meeting with Jon Bauman “Bowzer” from Sha Na Na.

Franken was to be joined by Iowa Democratic state lawmakers and congressional candidates Christina Bohannan and Liz Mathis, both of whom were conspicuously absent.

Bohannan’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

Mathis’ campaign said it was notified Sept. 8 of the possible town hall but had not received confirmation as of Friday afternoon and bumped the Franken event for another engagement.

“Although it is my understanding investigators found that no criminal act occurred and the case was closed after being deemed unfounded by police, it is an important reminder that workplaces and law enforcement should encourage women to feel comfortable coming forward with any allegations of inappropriate conduct,” Mathis said in a statement.

“From my work as an advocate for victims of neglect and assault, I reaffirm my victim-focused and zero-tolerance stance against all forms of sexual harassment.”

Caleb McCullough of The Des Moines Bureau contributed to this report.

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