After resigning from the U.S. Senate at the beginning of 2018 due to sexual-harassment allegations, the comedian is working with Hollywood firm United Talent Agency to make paid public speeches. The agency sent an email this week pitching Franken to potential bookers and promoters, touting his “unique voice,” Emmy awards, best-selling books and career in the Senate.
“Whether discussing his career in comedy or in public service, Franken delivers a singular experience – leaving audiences thoroughly entertained, more knowledgeable, and either optimistic or extremely depressed about our nation’s future – depending on how he feels that day,” the pitch note obtained by Bloomberg says. It makes no mention of the circumstances that led to his resignation.
Before his election to the Senate as a Democrat from Minnesota, Franken was on the speaking circuit, which can pay tens of thousands of dollars per appearance. Members of Congress aren’t allowed to be paid for their speeches.
Franken has been tiptoeing back into public life since the sexual-harassment allegations forced him to resign. He started a website in April and began hosting a podcast in May, featuring guests such as comedian Dana Carvey, author Michael Lewis and former energy secretary Ernest Moniz.
The allegations against Franken have divided the Democratic Party over the past year. Several senators, including Dick Durbin, have said they had second thoughts about calling for Franken to step down, and Franken told journalist Jane Mayer that he regretted resigning.
Mayer wrote a profile of Franken for the New Yorker questioning the allegations — in particular the first case. In that instance, radio host Leeann Tweeden said Franken made unwanted advances and released a photo of him gesturing toward her chest while she was asleep.
Kirsten Gillibrand, a senator from New York who is running for president, was one of the first women to call for Franken to step down, and she’s defended that position in the weeks since Franken spoke to Mayer.
“There is no prize for someone who tries to hold accountable a powerful man who is good at his day job,” Gillibrand said at a town-hall event in July. “But we should have the courage to do it anyway.” She reiterated that position in a podcast with the New York Times this week.
Franken will join a growing list of men accused of sexual misconduct as part of the #MeToo movement who are now reentering public life. The track record is mixed.
Comedian Aziz Ansari has toured the U.S. for the better part of the last year and released a new standup special on Netflix over the summer to largely favorable reviews. Louis C.K. has had a harder time and has required attendees of his performances to lock their phones or any recording devices so they don’t post any of the material.
Franken was a high-profile member of the Senate, amplified by his career in comedy. A former writer for the sketch show “Saturday Night Live,” he was elected to the Senate in 2008 and re-elected in 2014. He was one of the most outspoken critics of President Donald Trump prior to Franken’s resignation.
His biography on the UTA speaking website promises to give a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the Senate, and the current state of politics.
“As we head into the 2020 elections, Franken will cut through the conventional wisdom and tell you how it really is,” the site reads. “For example, President Trump has a tendency to exaggerate or just flat out lie. Really.”