Al Franken Tears Into Sessions Over Civil Rights Claims – PEMA LEVY JAN. 10, 2017 2:03 PM

The comedian-turned-senator poked holes in Sessions’ stories of civil rights exploits.

Alex Brandon/AP

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) tore into his colleague Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) during Sessions’ confirmation hearing on Tuesday to be the next attorney general, suggesting that Sessions has not honestly portrayed his record on civil rights to the public.

Republican senators and the Trump transition team made a concerted effort at the hearing to portray Sessions as an egalitarian whose reputation as a racist is unearned. But Franken’s pointed questions cast doubt on that narrative.

Franken began by bringing up an interview Sessions gave in 2009, when he became the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sessions, Franken quoted, said at the time, “We’re not going to misrepresent any nominee’s record and we’re not going to lie about it.” Franken then used the next 10 minutes of questioning to suggest that Sessions was actively misrepresenting his own record.

First, Sessions brought up another quote from that same interview in which Sessions claimed to have filed “20 or 30 civil rights cases to desegregate schools” other organizations as a US attorney in Alabama. But in November, Franken continued, Sessions’ office said he had filed “a number” of desegregation cases. Which was it, Franken wanted to know. Sessions acknowledged that the record doesn’t show that there were “20 or 30” and that “the number would be less than that.”

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The Case for Vice President Al Franken – Hillary Clinton at a campaign stop for Al Franken in Minneapolis, October 2008. | Cory Ryan/Getty | Getty

This is not a joke: Hillary needs someone like Franken if she’s going to beat Trump.

Hillary Clinton at a campaign stop for Al Franken in Minneapolis, October 2008. | Cory Ryan/Getty | Getty

Hillary Clinton at a campaign stop for Al Franken in Minneapolis, October 2008. | Cory Ryan/Getty | Getty

This is not a joke. Senator Al Franken should be the Democratic Party’s choice for vice president.

If I had said that 10 years ago, or even six months ago, the notion would have been preposterous: a former Saturday Night Live writer, perhaps best known as the mock self-help guru Stuart Smalley, Franken became synonymous with left-wing bombast thanks to his best-selling book Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot. He took the presidency itself as a joke, writing a satirical campaign memoir, Why Not Me, in which Franken wins the White House on a platform of eliminating ATM fees, only to be quickly chased out by the “Joint Congressional Committee on the President’s Mood Swings.”

But for a 2016 presidential race that’s already stranger than fiction, his party truly needs someone like Franken if it’s going to win the presidency.

Before Donald Trump, Franken wouldn’t possibly have merited serious consideration. Even though his seven-year record as a senator from Minnesota suggests he’s a genuinely committed legislator, the first rule of V.P. picks is “do no harm”—and pre-Trump, the trove of politically incorrect barbs from Franken’s past would have been far too much baggage for a presidential nominee to want to carry. The spotlight would have been on him instead of Clinton.

Fight against mandatory arbitration clauses finds ally in Senate – by Wilson Dizard March 12, 2015 6:44PM ET

Sen. Al Franken plans to reintroduce bill that would guarantee consumers option to sue banks and credit card companies

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at Mar 13, 2015 2.08

Fine print that prevents consumers from suing their banks and lenders will soon face a challenge from the dormant Fair Arbitration Act, which Sen. Al Franken, D-MN, said Thursday he plans to reintroduce in the Senate soon.

Franken, standing alongside members from the Fair Arbitration Now Coalition, addressed the issue of arbitration clauses included in the contracts that millions of people sign when getting a loan or a credit card. His bill, which he plans to introduce with House Rep. Hank Johnson, D-GA, would give consumers the choice of whether or not to go into arbitration over disputes. Arbitration clauses typically require that consumers must negotiate compensation for unfair treatment through private arbitration.

Franken’s speech follows a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) report released on Tuesday, which found that 90 percent of arbitration clauses prevent class action lawsuits, and concluded that there was “no evidence that arbitration clauses lead to lower prices for consumers.”

“This week, the CFPB took a big step forward in the same fight by releasing their study of forced arbitration, which has become the standard take-it-or-leave-it practice for consumers in everything from their credit cards to cell phone contracts,” Franken said.

“Those types of agreements often prevent consumers from taking companies to court for legal relief, and instead put victims of wrongdoing at a disadvantage,” he said.

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Hollywood pumps cash to candidates – By Judy Kurtz October 31, 2014, 06:00 am

Celebrities are putting on a money-raising show, digging into their wallets in a last ditch effort to help Democrats and Republicans before Election Day.

David Letterman, Ben Affleck, former NFL quarterback John Elway, and “Scandal’s” Shonda Rhimes were among those pitching in to help their candidates of choice with cash right before next week’s midterm elections.

The donations made in this past fundraising cycle are largely being funneled to high-stakes matchups that could either keep the Senate in Democratic hands or tilt it to GOP control.

But in some cases, A-listers may be opening their checkbooks for old pals.

“Late Show” host Letterman was one of several high-profile donors to Sen. Al Franken’s reelection campaign. The Minnesota Democrat had worked to fend off Republican businessman Mike McFadden but is expected to survive.

Franken and Letterman have a long history together — the “Saturday Night Live” alum first appeared on the late-night funnyman’s CBS show back in 1987. Franken has the distinction of being the sole recipient of Letterman’s political dollars over the years. Letterman, who’s retiring in 2015, cut a check for $5,100 this year to Franken, and donated to him twice in 2008, and once in 2011.

The television comedian isn’t the only celeb that Franken has in his star-packed (and humor-filled) fundraising arsenal. With donations from comedy mega-producer Judd Apatow, “Cheers” actor Ted Danson, fellow former “SNL” comic Will Forte, and singer Nancy Sinatra, Franken comes in near the top of the list of candidates for the most money contributed to his campaign by Hollywood.

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What Al Franken’s Normcore Senate Race Can Teach Other Democrats – Ana Marie Cox 10.27.14

Ann Heisenfelt/AP Photo

Despite a snippy debate Sunday, the senator’s run a staid campaign—and hasn’t distanced himself from Obama. The pundits may be bored, but he’s winning a state the GOP hoped to pick up.

Despite a snippy debate Sunday, the senator’s run a staid campaign—and hasn’t distanced himself from Obama. The pundits may be bored, but he’s winning a state the GOP hoped to pick up.
Observers have noted that Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) has made strenuous efforts to distinguish his second career as a politician from his previous stint as a comedian by being as boring and staid as possible. So no wonder that the snippy exchanges that characterized Sunday’s debate between Franken and Republican challenger Mike McFadden was described in the media as a “free-for-all.” One local blogger’s headline captured the frenzy: “Franken, McFadden raise voices, interrupt one another during Senate debate.”

One must keep in mind that, in Minnesota, they think ice fishing is exciting. (I say this with much love for my adopted home state.) In the era of Tea Party stunts and dramatic fan-based delays, the debate was moderately fussy. Its most dramatic and politically risky moment came when Franken offered “the Green Bay Packer model” as an alternative to the corporate structure of the NFL—and then McFadden asserted that Minnesotans might not care about football! Its other distinguishing feature was relative substantiveness, aside from a pointless 10 minutes arguing about whether we should ban all the non-existent flights from West African countries.

Debate theatrics—such as they were—aside, not many people will be paying attention to the Minnesota Senate race returns next Thursday. Franken will win in a walk. He’s currently up 10 points in the average of current polls over McFadden538 gives Franken just 4 percent chance of losing. And the lack of interest or excitement or doubt about that race is exactly why we need to think about it.

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Warren in Minnesota: ‘The game is rigged’ – By Paul Kane October 18 at 4:15 PM

NORTHFIELD, Minn. — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) brought her populist message Saturday to this small college town to rev up the final weeks of Sen. Al Franken’s reelection campaign, but also to claim the mantle of the modern liberal movement’s political godfather.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) speaks to a crowd during a rally to urge the reelection of Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) on the campus of the University of Colorado, in Boulder. (Brennan Linsley/AP)

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) speaks to a crowd during a rally to urge the reelection of Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) on the campus of the University of Colorado, in Boulder. (Brennan Linsley/AP)

Speaking before more than 400 people at Carleton College, Warren repeatedly invoked the spirit of the late Paul Wellstone, the fiery liberal senator who died 12 years ago this month in a plane crash during his reelection campaign. Wellstone remains a revered figure in Minnesota politics, and his brand of populism — out of step in the Clintonian Democratic Party of the 1990s — is now mainstream among leading liberal activists. Warren has become the most prominent public face of that movement, and the Wellstone disciples in this town 40 miles south of Minneapolis gave their approval Saturday.

“The game is rigged, and the Republicans rigged it,” Warren said to loud cheers.

It’s part of a three-state tour of Senate campaigns for Warren, who later Saturday headed to St. Paul for a get-out-the-vote rally on behalf of Franken, Gov. Mark Dayton (D) and other candidates. Franken and Dayton are strong favorites to win reelection next month.

On Friday Warren stopped in the Denver suburbs to help Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) in his tough reelection campaign. And on Sunday, Warren will be on the stump in Iowa for Rep. Bruce Braley (D), who is in a neck-and-neck race for the seat of retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). It’s Warren’s first visit in this election season to the battleground state, home to the first-in-the-nation caucus in early 2016 for the presidential campaign.

The crowd at Carleton — where Wellstone served as a professor before launching his long-shot 1990 Senate bid — gave its loudest cheers to Warren, whose fights against big banks have made her a hero to liberal activists.

“She’s amazing. She shows that politics is a good thing,” said Rachel Palermo, 21, a senior at neighboring St. Olaf College. Some of her friends said they attended the rally just to see Warren.

Palermo and her friends said they want Warren to run for president, but Alyssa Berg, 21, also a St. Olaf senior, noted it would be “counterproductive” for Warren to run against Hillary Rodham Clinton.

They settled on them running together as a ticket — it’s uncertain whether they prefer Warren or Clinton atop such a ticket.

Warren has declined past overtures at challenging Clinton in 2016, and she made no mention of any national ambition, but the crowd reaction cemented the impression that she is atop the list of sought-after speakers to energize liberal voters.

“She’s a rock star,” Franken told reporters afterward, declining to comment on whether she should consider national campaign.

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Franken warns merger would give Comcast ‘unprecedented’ power – By Julian Hattem – 08/25/14 05:05 PM EDT

Franken warns merger would give Comcast ‘unprecedented’ power

Comcast’s proposed $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable would give the company “unprecedented” power, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) warned the Federal Communications Commission on Monday.

Franken, who is up for re-election this year, told the FCC in a formal comment that the combination of the country’s two largest cable companies “would position Comcast as a veritable gatekeeper over vast swaths of the nation’s telecommunications industry, resulting in higher prices, fewer choices, and worse service for consumers in Minnesota and across the country.”

“The proposed acquisition also would threaten innovation and economic activity on the Internet, and it would jeopardize the free flow of information and ideas on which our democracy depends,” he added in his 40-page filing. “Because the proposed acquisition does not advance the public interest — but, rather, is inimical to it — it must be rejected.”

The former “Saturday Night Live” star has been a vocal critic of media consolidation and has repeatedly urged regulators to block Comcast’s purchase of Time Warner Cable.

He said in his FCC filing that executives have “no good answer” as to whether the merger would lead to lower bills for subscribers. In fact, the companies have told lawmakers that the deal might not reduce the cost of Internet, cable and phone service, but argue the combination is necessary to compete against new companies such as Netflix and Amazon.

In a blog post on Monday, a top Comcast executive said the merger would give the companies “the increased scale to invest and innovate more” in their networks.

If the merger were to be approved by the FCC and the Justice Department, Comcast would have business in 19 of the country’s top 20 markets and control about 40 percent of all broadband Internet subscriptions and one-third of all TV subscriptions in the U.S., Franken noted.

“That amount of power is unprecedented,” he wrote.

Monday is the FCC’s deadline for the first round of comments on the proposed merger. The next batch of comments is due Sept. 23, and final messages are due on Oct. 8.