Al Franken

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Al Franken

Template:TOCnestleft Alan Stuart "Al" Franken (born on May 21, 1951) is a Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party member of the United States Senate, serving as the junior senator for Minnesota. The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party is unique to Minnesota and is affiliated with the Democratic Party.[1]

Personal Life

Franken was born on May 21, 1951, and grew up in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. He graduated from Harvard in 1973 and married Franni Franken. The two have two children: daughter Thomasin, 28, and son Joe, 24.

Franken achieved note as a writer and performer for the television show Saturday Night Live from its inception in 1975 before moving to writing and acting in films and television shows. He then became a political commentator, author of five books and host of a nationally syndicated radio show on the Air America Radio network. He has taken part in seven USO tours, visiting our troops overseas in Germany, Bosnia, Kosovo and Uzbekistan - as well as visiting Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait four times.[1]

Air America

Franken was a founder and leading voice on the Air America radio network.[2]

Paul Wellstone tribute

As the 2004 Democratic National Convention was poised to open in Boston , Jobs with Justice, , hosted a living tribute to the late Senator Paul Wellstone on July 25. Hundreds filled the historic Old West Church to tackle the question, “What must the Democratic Party do to live up to the progressive vision of Paul Wellstone?”

“Paul had the courage to stand the pain that comes with standing for something and not fall for anything,” said United Steelworkers of America union International President Leo Gerard. “That’s what the Democratic Party needs right now. He gave people a reason to fight, to hope.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), another panel member, called for “Wellstone Democratic Clubs” to mobilize neighborhoods into the political process to re-order national resources.

Many in the audience were students at Camp Wellstone, a workshop conducted in Boston for prospective candidates and campaign workers conducted by Wellstone’s campaign manager, Jeff Blodgett, also on the panel.

Rep. Major Owens (D-N.Y.) pointed out that too many liberals, including himself, voted for “welfare reform” in 1996. He praised Wellstone as the lone voice defending welfare at the time.

Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner quickly jumped in, igniting the audience with a clarion call for popular direct action to ensure accountability from a Kerry administration. “We need Kerry there and we need to be there to purge the cancer (of the Bush administration) from the soul of the body politic,” he said.

When Horace Small, the moderator, pooh-poohed the importance of trade in this election, Jim Hightower, author and radio personality, nearly jumped out of his seat.

“Tell that to Texas farmers who are losing their farms or workers who have lost their jobs to NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement),” Hightower said. “Who the hell elected the WTO (World Trade Organization)? Right now, in Washington, there are too many 5-watt bulbs sitting in 100-watt sockets. The people are revolting – in the best sense. I think we are going to get George.”

Confessing to once being a Republican, columnist Arianna Huffington reminded the assembly of all the dirty tricks and disgusting tactics that are on the horizon as November nears. Saying that “Mobilization is the key,” she proposed reaching out to the 50 percent of the eligible electorate that stayed home in 2000. “If we are able to just energize 10 percent of those voters, we win.”

The program included the presentation of awards to two attorneys, Julie Patino and Nadine Cohen, both of whom have fought difficult battles to protect affirmative action and voting rights of Massachusetts residents and immigrants. Other panelists included Al Franken, media personality, noted Columbia professor Frances Fox Piven and Anna Burger, vice president of the Service Employees International Union.[3]

"Caring Across Generations"

Al Franken address the conference, July 19, 2011

In July 2011, Jessica Cutcliffe, of Break The Chain Campaign, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies, was involved in a conference of the Caring Across Generations campaign, in the ballroom of the Washington Hilton. According to Cutliffe "we shouted our words and stood with our hands entwined, linked together by our common vision for transforming the culture of care. The circle marked the end of the Care Congress and the beginning of a movement".

As the more than 700 person crowd divided into “tracks,” for the afternoon, the erupting fervor did not dissipate. A highly energized ACTION group proceeded to Capitol Hill to testify on the importance of protecting Medicare and Medicaid and to hear from Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) on these issues.[4]

Wellstone connection

Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar wrote an article in the StarTribune, October 24, 2012 - Sens. Klobuchar, Franken: Paul Wellstone's legacy

For both of us, Paul Wellstone was a friend, mentor and hero.
As senators, we've experienced firsthand the lasting personal impression he made in Washington.
As an educator, an activist and a senator, Paul inspired people throughout America. His mission was to bring a voice to the voiceless, power to the powerless and justice to those who've suffered injustice.
Above all, he brought the hope to all of us that, by working together, it's possible to change the world and make tomorrow better than today.[5]

Wellstone Memorial

Organizers have announced the date of a memorial in Washington, D.C., to honor Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone and others killed in a plane crash 10 years ago.

Wellstone Action and Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken will host the event Nov. 28, 2012 at the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Wellstone, his wife Sheila, their daughter, Marcia Wellstone Markuson, three campaign staffers and two pilots were killed Oct. 25, 2002, when their plane crashed in northern Minnesota.

Event organizers plan to remember the victims and hear how Wellstone's legacy continues today. They also will present the annual Sheila Wellstone Institute Awards to those who continue her work to end domestic and sexual violence.[6]

American Constitution Society


Supported by Council for a Livable World

The Council for a Livable World, founded in 1962 by long-time socialist activist and alleged Soviet agent, Leo Szilard, is a non-profit advocacy organization that seeks to "reduce the danger of nuclear weapons and increase national security", primarily through supporting progressive, congressional candidates who support their policies. The Council supported Al Franken in his successful Senate run as candidate for Minnesota.[7]

Council for a Livable World, 50th Anniversary


On June 6, 2012, Council for a Livable World, along with its sister organizations Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and Council for a Livable World’s PeacePAC, celebrated the 50th Anniversary of their founding by Leo Szilard in 1962.

An evening celebration was held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Congressman Barney Frank acted as the Master of Ceremonies and, in the process, received a lifetime achievement award from former Rep. Tom Downey, a member of the Council’s Board of Directors. The Robert F. Drinan Peace and Human Award was presented to former Representative and PeacePAC Chairman David Bonior and the late Edith Wilkie, a longtime advocate and leader for peace and justice.

There were also speeches and toasts by Senator Al Franken (D-MN), Representative Shelley Berkley, former Representative and PeacePAC chairman Tom Andrews (D-ME), former Cabinet Secretary Norman Mineta and Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen.[8]

Credit for New START treaty

According to the Council for a Livable World, in December 2010, After a battle that lasted many months, the Senate voted 71-26 to give its advice and consent to the New START Resolution of Ratification.

The effort to win the Senate’s two-thirds majority was like riding a roller coaster, with optimism followed by pessimism followed by optimism and back and forth.
Ultimately, the vote was a remarkably bipartisan victory in an intensely hyper-partisan atmosphere. It is a victory for the consensus of former national security officials of both parties and both active duty and retired military.
Ratification of the treaty is only the beginning. The U.S. and Russia should take advantage of the momentum created by the approval of New START to pursue negotiations on reductions in all types of nuclear warheads, including non-deployed and non-strategic warheads, in a timely manner.

Lots of credit goes to Senators Kerry and Lugar (R-IN), who managed the treaty, other Senators who have been active for the treaty such as Casey (D-PA), Shaheen (D-NH), Cardin (D-MD), Franken (D-MN) and others, the Obama Administration who put together a terrific campaign (and I will not name everyone because there are too many to name) and a terrific effort by the arms control community.[9]

2014 endorsement

The council wrote of Franken;

In January 2007, Al Franken announced the end of his popular radio show and following the final show, he announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate. After winning the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party endorsement, Franken faced incumbent Senator Norm Coleman (R). After a hotly contested election, Al Franken was sworn in as Minnesota’s Senator on July 7, 2009.

Senator Franken immediately became a champion for the issues Council members support. During the debate on nuclear weapons modernization spending and New START, Senator Franken took to the Senate floor saying:
“This is the 21st century, not the Cold War, and our needs are different. That's why I won't support this massive investment in modernization without an equal commitment to arms control and non-proliferation.”
His leadership has not just been talking points; he’s earned a perfect 100% on the Council’s scorecard for his support of smart security spending, ending the war in Afghanistan and strong non-proliferation programs.[10]

ACORN endorsement

Al Franken with ACORN officials

Progressive States Network Gala

April 19, 2007, Progressive States Network’s first annual gala honored U.S. Senator Jon Tester, U.S. Representative Keith Ellison, and Deborah Rappaport. Awards were also presented to Iowa State Senator Joe Bolkcom, Kansas State Senator Donald Betts, and Washington State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles. Participants talked about promoting their legislative agenda and public policy advocacy. They also talked about issues such as operations in Iraq, grassroots organizing and recruitment, and public participation.

Other speakers included Joel Barkin Executive Director Progressive States Network, Steve Doherty Founding Co-Chair Progressive States Network, Senators Al Franken and Bernie Sanders, Lisa Seitz Gruwell Chief Operating Officer Skyline Public Works, Washington (State) Tom Matzzie Director, David Sirota Founding Co-Chair Progressive States Network.[11]

Planned Parenthood

Franken received $9000 in lobbying funds from Planned Parenthood in 2008.

Endorsed by communist Mark Froemke

On July 14, 2008 the Al Franken for U.S. Senate campaign announced that four new labor organizations have "joined its ever-growing coalition that’s fighting to send a senator to Washington who will stand with Minnesota’s middle class".

The new endorsements were;

“Minnesotans need a senator who understands the needs of Minnesota families, and who won’t abandon them in a time of need,” declared Mark Froemke, education director of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union, Local 167G.

“Norm Coleman had a chance to support the families of the Red River Valley on CAFTA and, instead, he supported President Bush,” Froemke noted. “Al Franken will stand with farmers and workers and Minnesotans, and that’s why we stand with him in this election.[12].”

Communist Party commentary

In a Peoples World article, November 22, 2008 Barb Kucera wrote of the controversial Minnesota U.S. Senate election, quoting both Mark Ritchie and his known associate Communist Party USA member Mark Froemke .[13]

Whether Minnesota labor's massive effort to mobilize members in the 2008 elections was a success will ultimately turn on the results of a recount in the U.S. Senate race, Labor 2008 coordinators say.
While most AFL-CIO and Change to Win unions backed Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) challenger Franken, a few labor organizations–notably the Carpenters and Pipe Trades--endorsed Coleman. After all the results were turned in, Coleman led Franken by only 215 votes out of just under 3 million cast. An official recount began Nov. 18 and could take a month, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said.
Franken’s race against GOP incumbent Norman Coleman is important nationally. To get pro-worker bills through the Senate, workers and their allies need 60 votes, out of 100 senators, to cut off GOP filibusters. That includes a presumed GOP talkathon against the Employee Free Choice Act, which is designed to help level the playing field between workers and bosses in union organizing and bargaining first contracts...

Independence Party candidates made the difference in the Bachmann and Paulsen races and definitely affected the Senate race, said Mark Froemke, president of the West Area Labor Council that spans the western half of the state. 'The Independence Party got a better number than I would have expected in this area,' he said. Negativity of campaign commercials in the final days of the Senate race also had an effect.

DSA support

The minutes of a Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America membership meeting held at the Friends Meeting House in Decatur, Georgia, March 1 2008, included reference to a report by Milt Tambor on DSA support for Congressional and Senate candidates in the 2008 election.[14]

4) Milt reported that DSA is calling on locals to support progressive candidates for Congress and the Senate, mainly through fundraisers and volunteering. Al Franken (MN) and one other have been suggested; more details will follow...

Wellstone Action

In 2009 Al Franken was listed as a member of the Advisory Board[15] of Wellstone Action, a Minnesota based organization based on the political legacy[16] of that state’s late ‘progressive” Senator Paul Wellstone.

Wellstone Action and Wellstone Action Fund combine to form a national center for training and leadership development for the progressive movement. Founded in January 2003, Wellstone Action's mission is to honor the legacy of Paul and Sheila Wellstone by continuing their work through training, educating, mobilizing and organizing a vast network of progressive individuals and organizations.

"Agent Orange" campaign connection

July 15, 2010, Front left , Dr. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong, Al Franken, Tran Thi Hoan (seated), Susan Schall, Merle Ratner

In July 2010, Dr. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong a leading clinician / researcher on the effects of Agent Orange on women and children in Vietnam from Tu Du Hospital, Ho Chi Minh City, visited Washington DC with "Agent orange" victim, student Ms. Tran Thi Hoan.

On July 15, 2010, at the the Third Hearing on Agent Orange in Vietnam: Recent Developments in Remediation Rayburn House Office Building, VAVA (Vietnam Assocation of Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin) testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommitte on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment. This was the first time a victim of Agent Orange had spoken to Congress. The victim, the well-received Ms. Tran Thi Hoan, who has no legs, received a lot of attention.

Dr. Phuong and Tran Thi Hoan were accompanied by Merle Ratner of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism and Susan Schnall (both leaders of the Committees of Correspondence dominated Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign.

The party met Minnesota Senator Al Franken.[17]

Vietnam delegation

U.S. Sen. Al Franken is part of a Senate delegation that will travel to Vietnam next week.

The group will "look into environmental remediation of dioxin and the joint funding of medical services for people with disabilities, and meet with Vietnamese government officials to discuss education initiatives, labor issues and trade relations."

He'll also continue on to Laos. Minnesota has a large community of Hmong who originally came from Laos.

Other Senators on the Vietnam leg of the trip are: Democratic Sens. Tom Harkin of Iowa, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Jeff Merkley of Oregon).[18]

Representative Lynn Woolsey of California, also accompanied the delegation.[19]

Anti "speculator" bill

in April 2012 Ben Cardin joined a group of his Senate colleagues in sponsoring a bill, S. 2222, which "will give federal regulators immediate authority to invoke emergency powers to rein in speculators who are responsible for rapidly rising gasoline prices".

There is broad agreement among energy experts and economists that speculators are one of the causes for the rapidly rising price of gas. Domestic oil production has risen to its highest level in a decade, oil supplies are greater today than they were three years ago and demand for oil in the United States is lower today than it was in 1997. Yet gas prices continue to soar.

There is something wrong with this equation. There is no logical reason why gas prices should continue to rise if oil supplies are up and demand is down.
The American Trucking Association, Delta Airlines, the Petroleum Marketers Association of America, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and other experts all say excessive oil speculation in the futures markets significantly increases crude oil and gasoline prices. A Feb. 27, 2012 article in Forbes Magazine cited a recent report by the investment bank Goldman Sachs pointing out that excessive oil speculation adds 56 cents to the price of a gallon of gas.

This "speculators" bill would set a 14-day deadline for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to take emergency steps to stop excessive speculation by Wall Street traders in the crude oil, gasoline and other energy futures markets. Also co-sponsoring the measure were: U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Al Franken (D-MN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Bill Nelson (D-FL).[20]

Working with Communist Mark Froemke

Al Franken (left), Mark Froemke
Mark Froemke, Al Franken, 2016

U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., left, and Mark Froemke, an AFL-CIO representative, and Communist Party USA member, left the Grand Forks International Airport on Tuesday January 11, 2012, after Franken flew into Grand Forks to spend two days talking to locked-out American Crystal Sugar Co. workers in the Red River Valley. [21]

JStreet Dinner

One hundred and sixty members of the Congress allowed their nam es to be listed as honorary hosts for the JStreet inaugural conference Gala Dinner on 27 October 2009. AIPAC then began calling them, sometimes making threats against their reelection, to have them to withdraw their names. Twelve members of the Congress, mostly Republicans, withdrew their names. This was a victory for JStreet.

Two of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Minnesota, Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum, and the two of the Senators, Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar attended the dinner.[22]


On 26–29 October 2009, Erwin Marquit traveled to Washington DC to attend the first national conference of JStreet, the nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 2008 to promote a resolution of the Israel- Palestine conflict through a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders.

I attended the conference on 26-28 October and participated in lobbying members of the Congress on 29 October...
The guidelines for the lobby stressed Congressional support of Obama. With two other Minnesotans, I met with the two Senators from Minnesota, Franken and Klobachar , and Rep. Oberstar, the DFL member of the House from northeastern district of Minnesota...[23]

Marquit went on to participate in JStreet in Minnesota.

"Two State" solution

Senator Franken met with members of the Palestinian Authority while on a visit to Israel and remains commited to his statement :"First, I continue to be a strong supporter of a two-state solution that would enable Israel and Palestine to live side by side with a just and durable peace between them. Progress towards that goal has been frustratingly elusive. It is a goal that can only be achieved by the parties themselves through negotiations - for those negotiations to happen and to succeed, the parties have to want to participate.

By the way, a lot of right-wing Christians support Israel, because according to prophecy, before the Second Coming can occur, the Jews have to be in Israel. Of course, they also believe that when that happens, every Jew will die a fiery death. At which time I predict the coalition between the neo-cons and the right-wing evangelicals will disappear. [24]

Hi IPS rating

In 2012 “Congressional Report Card for the 99 Percent" , the Institute for Policy Studies examined 40 different legislation actions in the House and Senate—votes and legislation introduced—to ascertain the real allegiances of sitting members of Congress. These include votes to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, levy a Wall Street speculation tax, invest in infrastructure, and protect workers and student financial aid.

The Report Card also graded politicians for their commitment to reducing inequality and boosting the 99 percent. The report’s “Honor Roll” gave an A-plus grade to 5 members of the U.S. Senate, including Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (VT-I), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).[25]

Corporate Accountability

The Corporate Accountability Coalition is an alliance of organizations whose work includes a focus on issues of corporate accountability and transparency, abuse of power by corporations, responsible business practices, and the rights of people.

Organizations include leftist groups the Center for Corporate Policy , the Institute for Policy Studies , CorpWatch, Corporate Accountability International , the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, and EarthRights International

The report card is based on 17 actions (9 in the House and 8 in the Senate) that form a good litmus test of whether lawmakers are working for the narrow interests of large corporations or for all of us.

According to the Coalitions first-ever Congressional Report Card on Corporate Accountability issued in 2013, only two Representatives and four Senators scored higher than 87 percent. The top scores went to former Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) in the House and Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Al Franken (D-MN), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).[26]

Working America

Working America, the AFL-CIO’s more than 3 million-member community affiliate for people without unions, celebrated its 10th anniversary 2013. To mark the occasion, Working America unveiled its “50 in 5” initiative to expand into all 50 states in five years, as well as new efforts to organize workers at their workplaces. Said Working America Executive Director Karen Nussbaum:

Every day, we talk to people struggling to support their families or piece together a living with their current jobs. These are people who want to see changes in their communities or on the job. This expansion allows working people to make a difference in new states and communities.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, “Working America is an example of the way the AFL-CIO’s door has to be—and will be—open to any worker or group of workers who want to organize and build power.” The expansion to 50 states, he said, means that every week, at front doors, workplaces and community gatherings all over America, thousands of people can build power locally.

Along with its expansion efforts, Working America will continue its year-round community organizing and electoral and legislative work, as well as pilot different methods of organizing workers on the job. Those models and tactics include a workplace organizing site set to launch in May called

In 2013 , Working America was in a dozen states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Colorado, New Mexico, Michigan and Oregon. It recently opened offices in Texas and North Carolina.

Working America hosted a “50 in 5” launch at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C., that included Trumka, AFL-CIO President Emeritus John Sweeney, American Bridge 21st Century President Rodell Mollineau, U.S. Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other guests.[27]

2013 ARA conference

Keith Ellison, Jan Schakowsky, Bernie Sanders, Al Franken, Elizabeth Warren, and David Cicilline addressed Alliance for Retired Americans 2013 conference.

ARA endorsement, 2014

The Alliance for Retired Americans Political Action Fund endorsed Al Franken in 2014.[28]

Peace Action support

In the 2014 mid terms, six of the eight pro-peace candidates in battlegrounds that Peace Action prioritized won election: Senators Jeff Merkley (OR), Al Franken (MN), Gary Peters (MI), Jeanne Shaheen (NH) and House members Mike Honda (CA) and Rick Nolan (MN). [The two who lost Bruce Braley (IA) and Carol Shea-Porter (NH).][29]

Peace Action has supported Al Franken since 2008;[30]

Former comedian and author Al Franken made a splash when he threw his hat in the ring against Republican Senator Norm Coleman. Sen. Coleman was a supporter of billions of unaccountable dollars for war, missile defense, and flouting years of nonproliferation law, and Peace Action West jumped at the chance to oust him. Our supporters stepped up, raising thousands of dollars for Franken’s campaign. We also sent one of our best organizers to help his campaign in the last weeks before the election in Minnesota. It turned out that every single vote counted in this election, and Peace Action West helped tip the scales in Franken's favor. After a nail-biting recount, Senator Franken was finally seated in July of 2009.
Sen. Franken has been a vocal champion of eliminating the threat of nuclear weapons. In a speech on the New START treaty to reduce nuclear arsenals, Franken said, “This new treaty will also allow us to lead by example in arms reduction, and this will in turn greatly aid our vital nonproliferation efforts. Indeed, while the arms reductions in the treaty will be relatively modest, entering into the treaty will be a significant step in the renewal of our arms control and nonproliferation agenda for the 21st century. It will put us on firmer ground as we confront the dangers of nuclear weapons in this new world.”

Sen. Franken stepped up to rein in massive war spending, introducing a Pay for War resolution that would force any future wars to be paid for by revenue cuts or tax increases, to make sure every politician and taxpayer thinks through the decision to throw billions into war. He has joined his colleagues in calling on the president to bring our troops home from Afghanistan, and has taken the lead in pushing for protections for US citizens accused of terrorism. Peace Action West is proud to support Sen. Franken for reelection in 2014.

21st Century Democrats

21st Century Democrats endorsed Al Franken for Senator from Minnesota in 2014.[31]

Asad Zaman connection


Al Franken with Asad Zaman 2014.

Honduras letter

On Thursday, May 23, 2013, U.S. Senator Cardin (D-MD) circulated a Senate sign-on "Dear Colleague" letter to Secretary of State John Kerry addressing deepening concerns about Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Honduras.

The letter states that violence and impunity for state security forces in Honduras has reached intolerable levels and cites concerns related to extrajudicial killings, linkages to death squads, and increasing militarization of civilian law enforcement. The letter also raises the concern that State Department certifications intended to ensure that U.S. foreign aid supports the rule of law in Honduras may contradict the reality on the ground.

The letter asks State Department to:

  • provide Congress with a detailed assessment of the efficacy of current Honduran government efforts to address this issue as mandated by FY12 Appropriations language;
  • conduct a detailed review of specific State Department actions to help ensure that no U.S. funds are being used to support police implicated in human rights violations; and
  • make every reasonable effort to help ensure that Honduras' upcoming November 2013 elections are free, fair and peaceful.[32]

In addition to Cardin, the letter was cosigned by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Mark Udall (D-CO), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Michael F. Bennet (D-CO), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chris Coons (D-DE), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).[33]

Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015

S 299, the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015, principal sponsors are Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.[34]

By May 20, it had accumulated 33 co-sponsors, including 26 Democrats - Sheldon Whitehouse, Tom Udall, Dick Durbin, Thomas Carper, Amy Klobuchar, Barbara Boxer, Jack Reed, Debbie Stabenow, Jeff Merkley, Chris Murphy, Benjamin Cardin, Chris Coons, Dianne Feinstein, Jeanne Shaheen, Sherrod Brown, Mazie Hirono, Brian Schatz, Tammy Baldwin, Ed Markey, Heidi Heitkamp, Jon Tester, Claire McCaskill, Ron Wyden, Tim Kaine, Al Franken, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Bennet, Martin Heinrich . [35]

Lobbied by Minnesota Peace Project

In 2014 seven Minnesota Peace Project members from across the state went to Washington DC to meet with 9 out of 10 Minnesota members of Congress or their foreign policy aides. We explored our differences on key foreign policy issues such as military budget, nuclear disarmament, and support for ongoing negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program. The team had lengthy second meetings with both Senators’ staff.

In response to a question from an MPPer, Senator Franken told constituents during an open Q & A session that “he supported continuing negotiations with Iran on their nuclear program”. This was the first time Senator Franken had made a publIc statement supporting ongoing negotiations..[36]

The "Jihad" Caucus

In May 2015, a group of 14 U.S. senators, led by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, wrote a letter to President Obama urging him to allow 65,000 Syrians into the United States as refugees. This would require a dramatic expansion of the refugee program, and virtually guarantee that a sizable number of ISIS fighters would slip in among them. Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy called these Senators the "Jihad Caucus" because practically speaking, Jihad is what this request will bring.

The 14 senators demanding this massive influx of Syrians were: Dick Durbin, Amy Klobuchar, Al Franken, Patrick Leahy, Dianne Feinstein, Patty Murray, Robert Menendez, Sheldon Whitehouse, Jeanne Shaheen, Chris Coons, Tim Kaine, Ed Markey, Sherrod Brown, and Mazie Hirono.

These same 14 had sent another letter in April Demanding action on the Syrians.[37]

2015 Cuba trip

Larson, Udall, Franken, Grijalva

On May 25th 2015. U.S. Senator Tom Udall (Dem., NM), the author of a bill to expand U.S. telecommunications trade with Cuba (S.1389),[2] led a delegation of fellow Democrats on a visit to Cuba: Senator Al Franken (MN) and Congressmen Raul Grijalva (AZ) and John B. Larson (CT), all of whom support ending the U.S. embargo of Cuba. Their visit included a meeting with Cuba’s Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, as well as meetings with Cuba’s Ministries of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment and Agriculture as well as self-employed members of small cooperatives and investors from foreign countries.

At a May 27th press conference in Havana at the end of their trip, Senator Udall noted that the U.S. designation of Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism” would end in two days (May 29th) and asserted his belief that “it will be a matter of weeks when we have restored diplomatic relations.”[38]

Iran deal/Iranian money

In August 2015, Senator Ed Markey announced his support for the Iran deal that would let the Iran inspect its own Parchin nuclear weapons research site, conduct uranium enrichment, build advanced centrifuges, buy ballistic missiles, fund terrorism and have a near zero breakout time to a nuclear bomb.

Markey had topped the list of candidates supported by the Iran Lobby. And the Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC) had maxed out its contributions to his campaign.

Al Franken, another IAPAC backed politician who also benefited from Iran Lobby money, came out for Iran deal as well.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, the Iran Lobby’s third Democratic senator, also came out for the deal even though she only got half the IAPAC cash that Franken and Markey received.

As did Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who had benefited from IAPAC money back when she first ran for senator.

Kirsten Gillibrand had also picked up money from the Iran Lobby’s Hassan Nemazee. Namazee was Hillary Clinton’s national campaign finance director who had raised a fortune for both her and John Kerry before pleading guilty to a fraud scheme encompassing hundreds of millions of dollars. Nemazee had been an Iranian American Political Action Committee trustee and had helped set up the organization.

Bill Clinton had nominated Hassan Nemazee as the US ambassador to Argentina when he had only been a citizen for two years. A "spoilsport Senate" didn’t allow Clinton to make a member of the Iran Lobby into a US ambassador, but Nemazee remained a steady presence on the Democrat fundraising circuit.

Nemazee had donated to Gillibrand and had also kicked in money to help the Al Franken Recount Fund "scour all the cemeteries for freshly dead votes", as well as to Barbara Boxer, who also came out for the Iran nuke deal. Boxer had also received money more directly from IAPAC. [39]

IAPAC money

Senator Al Franken received money from the Iranian American Political Action Committee during the 2014 election cycle.[40]


“I congratulate you on twenty years of work to strengthen our democracy. CAIR has been an advocate for many Minnesotans, including our Somali-American community.” - Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) (September 2014).[41]

“I want to thank CAIR for vigorously protecting the civil liberties of many Muslim Americans while also advancing the national dialogue on issues important to the Muslim community” (October 2017).[42]

White House Summit on Worker Voice

At the White House Summit on Worker Voice October 2015 President Barack Obama declared: "If you're not at the table, you are on the menu."

He was quoting Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, one of many top union leaders attending the day-long session. Also participating were organizers of low wage workers, researchers, academics, several business leaders, Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Al Franken, D.-Minn., and Representatives Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, Gregory Meeks, D.-N.Y., and Frederica Wilson, D.-Fla.

Obama acknowledged that workers' rights have been weakened by anti-union laws and policies, but throughout the Summit he repeated his opinion that the main culprit has been "the combination of globalization and automation" that allows corporations "to do more with less." He said what's needed is a "refashioning" of the "social compact so that workers are able to be rewarded properly for the labor that they put in."

Obama suggested that employees and employers work together to create a new "culture" on the job that allows workers to have a voice.

President Obama closed the Summit on Worker Voice by saying, "I see this as the beginning of the conversation, not the end."[43]


Franken sits on the following committees:[1]

  • Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee
  • Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee
  • Retirement and Aging Subcommittee
  • Judiciary Committee
  • Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights Subcommittee
  • Human Rights and the Law Subcommittee
  • Administrative Oversight and the Courts Subcommittee
  • Indian Affairs Committee
  • Special Committee on Aging


The following have worked as staff members for Al Franken:[44]

External links



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 About Franken
  2. Democratic Left, Summer 2006
  3. Wellstone legacy: Stand up and fight, July 31 2004
  4. IPS blog, All Those Who Care: Campaign Launch Shows Depth of Interdependence, July 19, 2011 Senator Al Franken speaks about Medicaid to Caring Across Generations, By Jessica Cutcliffe for the IPS Blog
  5. StarTribune, October 24, 2012 - Sens. Klobuchar, Franken: Paul Wellstone's legacy
  6. [, Crookston Times, Memorial to honor Minn.'s Wellstone set in DC, Posted Nov. 4, 2012[
  7. CLW website: Meet Our Candidates
  8. Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation website. Council for a Livable World 50th Anniversary Celebration
  9. CLW, The Chain Reaction, New START Debate (Day 8, the final day – December 22) DEC 22, 2010 | POSTED BY JOHN ISAACS
  10. CLW, bio, 2014 endorsement, accessed July, 2014
  11. CSpan APRIL 19, 2007 Progressive States Network Gala
  13. Minnesota euphoria over Obama win tempered by Senate recount, Peoples World, barb kucera, November 22, 2008
  14. Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America membership meeting minutes, March 1, 2008, accessed Dec. 10, 2011
  17. [ July 15, 2010 Third Hearing on Agent Orange in Vietnam: Recent Developments in Remediation, Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign website, accessed December 12, 2010]
  18. Minn Post.Al Franken to visit Vietnam with Senate group, then head to Laos, By Joe Kimball | 07/01/10
  19. Thanh Nien News, Luncheon with US senators in Hanoi Last Updated: Friday, July 02, 2010
  20. Stop Wall Street speculation that drives up gas prices for families, Peoples World, by: U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, April 16 2012
  21. [,%20D-Minn.,%20and%20Mark%20Froemke/publisher_ID/40/AG WEEK, Published January 11, 2012, 12:00 AM Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Mark Froemke]
  22. [Erwin Marquit memoirs, page 561]
  23. [Erwin Marquit memoirs, page 560-562]
  24. Minnesota Peace Project, Al Franken.letter to MPP 2.3.2012
  25. [, Yes!blog, Lawmakers Get Graded on Equality Record, by Chuck Collins posted Oct 09, 2012]
  26. HuffPo, Sarah Anderson IPS Global Economy Project Director Failing Grades for Congress on Corporate Accountability Posted: 12/20/2013
  27., AFL-CIO Now, On 10th Anniversary, Working America Sets ‘50 in 5’ Goal 2COMMENTS04/17/2013Mike Hall On 10th Anniversary, Working America Sets ‘50 in 5’ Goal]
  28. PAF
  29. CPUSA wbsite.2014 elections: Keep our eyes on the prize by: Joelle Fishman November 10 2014
  30. Peace Action West, How our election work has already made a difference
  31. Century Democrats, 2014 candidates
  32. SOAWatch, Ask your Senator to sign onto the Cardin Letter about Honduras
  33. Cardin Press release, Cardin Leads Senate Call For Accountability In Honduras For Human Rights Violations Tuesday, June 18, 2013
  34. [, Cuba travel bill advances in the Senate by: Emile Schepers May 20 2015]
  35. [%22S+299%22}, Congress.Gov. S.299 - Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015114th Congress (2015-2016) | G]
  36. Minnesota Peace Project, 2014 Highlights
  37. Jihad Caucus,, Jim Simpson, The Jihad Caucus, May 26, 2015
  38. Congressional Delegations Visit Cuba
  39. Frontpage magazine, Traitor Senators Took Money from Iran Lobby, Back Iran Nukes August 25, 2015 Daniel Greenfield
  40. American Political Action Committee,IAPAC Candidates, accessed January 29, 2017
  41. [ What They Say About CAIR (October 2014)
  42. CAIR website, What They Say About CAIR, 25 OCTOBER 2017 MODIFIED DATE
  43. PW Workers take seats at the table at White House summit by: Larry Rubin October 13 2015
  44. Legistorm: Al Franken (accessed on Nov. 10, 2010)