116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — A day after political opponents argued Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mike Franken should release from legal constraints a former staffer who claimed Franken kissed her without her consent, Franken’s campaign manager said no such legal agreement exists.
Franken, a retired U.S. Navy admiral from Sioux City, is running against longtime Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley.
In a Des Moines police report published Monday by the conservative website Iowa Field Report, Kimberley Strope-Boggus, who worked on Franken’s campaign before being fired in February, told police that after meeting for drinks at a Des Moines bar in March, a person — who is not named but presumed to be Franken based on the context — grabbed the collar of her vest and kissed her on the mouth.
Des Moines police closed its investigation and the Polk County Attorney declined to open a case after determining no criminal intent was established.
Franken acknowledged the meeting occurred, but denied Strope-Boggus’ claims, telling The Gazette on Monday, “It never happened.”
In the incident report, Strope-Boggus said the Franken campaign asked her to sign a separation agreement that included a stipulation that prevents her from making disparaging remarks about the candidate or his campaign.
On Tuesday, Grassley’s campaign spokeswoman and the Republican Party of Iowa said Franken should release Strope-Boggus from any nondisparagement agreement.
On Wednesday, Franken’s campaign said no such legal agreement exists.
“No agreement exists that prevents any employee of our campaign — past or present — from speaking out on this issue,” Franken campaign manager Julie Stauch said in a statement sent to reporters. “These accusations are false and deceitful insinuations from political opponents.”
Stauch’s statement goes on to compliment Grassley for his expressed support for federal legislation that would nullify nondisclosure agreements when workers report sexual harassment and assault, and says Franken would vote for the bill in the Senate.
Strope-Boggus told The Gazette she is seeking legal counsel before commenting on Franken’s claim that there is no legal agreement that prevents her from speaking publicly.
Grassley campaign spokeswoman Michaela Sundermann accused the Franken campaign of “attempting to play word games” with its claim that there is no legal agreement that precludes Strope-Boggus from discussing her claims. Sundermann noted that in the police report Strope-Boggus said Franken’s attorneys told Strope-Boggus’ attorney that her reposting of social media posts about the Franken campaign originally posted by her wife were in “violation of the nondisclosure that she signed when she was terminated.”
“The question remains: Will Mike Franken release his accuser from all nondisclosure agreements so she can fully share her side of the story? And will Mike Franken pledge not to retaliate against his accuser should she speak out freely regarding all her interactions with him?” Sundermann said in a statement to The Gazette.
Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann, in a statement, accused Franken of using “intimidation tactics” “to silence victims.”
“These allegations are very troubling, and Iowans deserve to hear the whole story,” Kaufmann said. “Mike Franken has been accused of gross misconduct and it speaks directly to his character.”
Comments: (515) 355-1300, email@example.com