Leeann Tweeden, who explosively accused Sen. Al Franken of groping her during a 2006 USO tour to Iraq, once worked as a scantily clad Hooter’s hostess, posed for Playboy twice–including nude– and was a talking head on two Sean Hannity Fox News shows.
While Tweeden’s background doesn’t excuse Franken’s behavior, it does provide some context to her charges, which may be exaggerated and politically motivated.
Franken apologized for their interaction, which involved a skit where they kissed during the 2006 USO Show.
Franken, who was a comedian at the time, was also photographed jokingly reaching for her breasts while she slept on their Air Force flight home.
He acknowledged and apologized for the incidents today (Nov. 16).
“I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann.”
“As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it,” he said in a statement.
It’s unclear what Franken meant by having a different recollection of the rehearsal, but his comment suggested that Tweeden may be exaggerating for political reasons.
Franken, a Democrat who was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008 from Minnesota, has been a harsh critic of Fox News, and President Trump.
He also sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has some oversight over alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election.
Tweeden appeared regularly on the Fox News political show “Hannity,” hosted by the hard-right commentator.
Hannity frequently has been accused of promoting wild alt-right conspiracy theories and fake news. He’s also a hard-line critic of Democrats, liberals and so-called “leftists”
Tweeden also appeared on another Hannity show, “The Great American Panel” and occasionally appeared on “Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld” a right-wing slanted, late-night Fox News comedy/satire show.
Tweeden was known for her wit and risque quips on the show.
The 41-year-old personality is probably best known for her 2001 to 2007 stint as a correspondent on Fox Sports Networks’ “The Best Damn Sports Show Period.”
Before that she worked for ESPN. She made her first appearance in Playboy in 1996 in a feature called ESPN “hard bodies.”
She did not appear nude at the time, but she did land on the cover.
In 2011, at 38, she appeared again in the December Playboy and posed in full-frontal nude shots.
Tweeden wasted no time heading for Hollywood once she graduated from high school in 1991. She bypassed college to pursue an acting and modeling career.
At 5-feet, 5-inches tall, she was too short for runway work, but did work as a fitness, lingerie and swimsuit model.
In 1992, she landed a job as a scantily clad hostess at a Hooter’s restaurant in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
She posed in the 1993 Hooter’s calendar, and must have made an impression.
As part of Hooters’ 25th anniversary in 2008, Tweeden was named one of the “Top Hooters Girls of all time.”
She left the Fox sports show around the same time and began a stint as hostess of NBC’s late night television series “Poker After Dark.”
In February this year, she joined the Los Angeles morning radio show “McIntyre in the Morning” on KABC 790 AM. She appears as a news anchor from 5-10 am weekdays.
Tweeden exploded back into the spotlight today when she accused Franken of forcibly kissing her during the USO rehearsal.
“On the day of the show Franken and I were alone backstage going over our lines one last time,” she wrote on the KABC website. “He said to me, ’We need to rehearse the kiss.’ I laughed and ignored him. Then he said it again. I said something like, ‘Relax Al, this isn’t SNL…we don’t need to rehearse the kiss.’”
But she said Franken persisted even though she said she was uncomfortable:
”I said ‘OK’ so he would stop badgering me. We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.”
Tweeden said she decided to come forward after women started publicly accusing movie mogul Harvey Weinstein of groping, sex assault and rape, and hearing California Rep. Jackie Speier tell about being sexually assaulted as a congressional aide.
”At that moment, I thought to myself, Al Franken did that exact same thing to me,” she said.
Until Tweeden surfaced with her charges against Franken, Republicans in Congress had been reeling over child molestation allegations against Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore.
Moore has been accused of groping a 14-year-old girl and attempting to date six other teenagers while he was a 32-year-old county prosecutor.
He’s adamantly denied the charges and refuses to drop out of the race.
Check out Tweeden’s appearance on the hard-right Hannity show.