Dean Phillip, a Minnesota billionaire, and Democratic candidate for Congress is frantically distancing himself from serial groper, Senator Al Franken – as his election heats up.
Franken has been accused of sexual misconducts by several women since a photograph emerged of Franken groping a sleeping female soldier. Since then, more pictures of him groping Ariana Huffington – founder of the Huffington Post – also surfaced. Radio reporter and former Playboy model, Leeann Tweeden, has also accused Franken of groping her while the pair were on a USO tour in 2006.
The accusations had led Dean Phillips, a billionaire heir to one of the state’s largest liquor empires and the grandson of “Dear Abby” columnist Pauline Phillips, to distance himself from Franken on social media, as he runs to unseat the Republican Representative Erik Paulsen in Minnesota’s third district.
Phillips tweeted that he was “extremely disappointed” in Franken’s behavior and had called for a Senate inquiry into the accusations of apparent misconduct. While he “strongly condemned” the contents of the photo, Phillips also emphasized Franken’s willingness to “fully cooperate” in any investigation.
“While the recent deluge of harassment stories is both shocking and saddening, I believe the women who are coming forward and I admire their courage,” he had said in a statement that was posted to Facebook. “Their stories inspire me to advocate for fundamental changes in our society and culture, so that this sort of behavior is no longer tolerated and to ensure it doesn’t occur in the first place.”
Phillips stopped short on talking about a pair of more prominent fellow Democrats, including the state auditor and the gubernatorial candidate Rebecca Otto, who called on Franken to resign.
He also did not address his past support for Franken’s political career in either of his statements.
Phillips had contributed $2,000 to Franken’s reelection campaign in October 2014. He has also remained silent about whether he still stands by the donation or would ask for the contribution to be returned. He did not respond to any requests for comment.
Phillips has made feminist issues a priority in his campaign. His website lists “equity and families” among his topmost five priorities if elected and laments that “much remains to be done to ensure equal opportunities” in the workplace for women.
“I will push for equal pay for equal work, develop sensible family leave policies, protect a woman’s right to access healthcare, strengthen public education, and tackle disparities,” the site quotes.
He made 128 federal election contributions, totaling $332,827, dating back to 2002 with all of that money going straight to the Democrats. He has contributed another $131,300 to the DNC since 2007, as well as $71,800 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2006 and again in 2016. He contributed about $20,000 to the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party, including a $10,000 contribution in February this year, as he sets his sight on his party’s nomination to in the Third District congressional race.