Al Franken

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Al Franken
Al Franken.jpg
U.S. Senate, Minnesota
In office
July 7, 2009-Present
Term ends
January 3, 2021
Years in position 6
PredecessorNorm Coleman (R)
Base salary$174,000/year
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2014
First electedNovember 4, 2008
Next generalNovember, 2020
Campaign $$22,502,124
Term limitsN/A
Bachelor'sHarvard University
Date of birthMay 31, 1951
Place of birthNew York, NY
ProfessionWriter, Radio Host
Net worth(2012) $8,429,528
Office website
Campaign website
Alan Stuart "Al" Franken (b. May 21, 1951, in New York, NY) is a Democratic member of the U.S. Senate from the state of Minnesota. Franken was first elected to the Senate in 2008. He won re-election to the U.S. Senate from Minnesota on November 4, 2014.[1] Franken won the Democratic nomination in the primary on August 12, 2014.[2]

Based on analysis of multiple outside rankings, Franken is one of the most reliable Democratic votes, meaning he can be considered a safe vote for the Democratic Party in Congress.


Franken was born in 1951 in New York, N.Y., but was raised in St. Louis Park, Minn. He earned his B.A. from Harvard University in 1973 and went on to become a screenwriter for Saturday Night Live. Prior to his political career, Franken had also hosted his own national radio show and written several New York Times-bestselling books.[3]


Below is an abbreviated outline of Franken's professional and political career:

  • Screenwriter, Author
  • Radio host for The Al Franken Show, 2004-2007
  • U.S. Senate, 2009-Present

Committee assignments

U.S. Senate


Franken serves on the following Senate committees[4]:


Franken served on the following Senate committees[5]:

Key votes

113th Congress


The second session of the 113th Congress enacted into law 114 out of the 3,036 introduced bills (3.8 percent). Comparatively, the 112th Congress had 4.2 percent of introduced bills enacted into law in the second session.[6] The Senate confirmed 13,949 out of 18,323 executive nominations received (76.1 percent). For more information pertaining to Franken's voting record in the 113th Congress, please see the below sections.[7]

National security

John Brennan CIA nomination

Yea3.png Franken voted for the confirmation of John Brennan as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The nomination was confirmed by the Senate on March 7, 2013, with a vote of 63 - 34. Most Democrats supported the nomination, while Republicans were somewhat divided with roughly one-third supporting the nomination.[8]


No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013

Yea3.png Franken voted for H.R.325 -- No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013. The bill passed the Senate on January 31, 2013, with a vote of 64 - 34. The purpose of the bill was to temporarily suspend the debt ceiling and withhold the pay of members of Congress until a budget could be passed. The vote largely followed party lines with Democrats overwhelmingly supporting it and many Republicans in opposition to the bill.[9]

Government shutdown

See also: United States budget debate, 2013

Yea3.png During the shutdown in October 2013, the Senate rejected, down party lines, every House-originated bill that stripped the budget of funding for the Affordable Care Act. A deal was reached late on October 16, 2013, just hours before the debt ceiling deadline. The bill to reopen the government, H.R. 2775, lifted the $16.7 trillion debt limit and funded the government through January 15, 2014. Federal employees also received retroactive pay for the shutdown period. The only concession made by Senate Democrats was to require income verification for Obamacare subsidies.[10] The final vote on H.R. 2775 was 81-18, with all 18 votes against the bill from Republican members. Franken voted with the Democratic Party for the bill.[11]


Source: This graphic was generated by Find The Best.

Mexico-U.S. border

Nay3.png Franken voted against Senate Amendment 1197 -- Requires the Completion of the Fence Along the United States-Mexico Border. The amendment was rejected by the Senate on June 18, 2013, with a vote of 39 - 54. The purpose of the amendment was to require the completion of 350 miles of fence described in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 before registered provisional immigrant status may be granted. It would also require 700 miles of fence be completed before the status of registered provisional immigrants may be changed to permanent resident status. The vote followed party lines.[12]

Social issues

Violence Against Women (2013)

Yea3.png Franken voted for S.47 -- Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. The bill was passed by the Senate on February 12, 2013, with a vote of 78 - 22. The purpose of the bill was to combat violence against women, from domestic violence to international trafficking in persons. All 22 dissenting votes were cast by Republicans.[13]

Previous congressional sessions

Fiscal Cliff

Yea3.png Franken voted for the fiscal cliff compromise bill, which made permanent most of the Bush tax cuts originally passed in 2001 and 2003 while also raising tax rates on the highest income levels. The bill was passed in the Senate by a 89 - 8 vote on January 1, 2013.[14]


On The Issues Vote Match

Al Franken's Vote Match results from On The Issues.
See also: On The Issues Vote Match

On The Issues conducts a VoteMatch analysis of elected officials based on 20 issue areas. Rather than relying on incumbents to complete the quiz themselves, the VoteMatch analysis is conducted using voting records, statements to the media, debate transcripts or citations from books authored by or about the candidate. Based on the results of the quiz, Franken is a Hard-Core Liberal. Franken received a score of 81 percent on social issues and 8 percent on economic issues.[15]

On The Issues organization logo.

The table below contains the results of analysis compiled by staff at On The Issues.

On The Issues Vote Quiz[16]
Economic Issues Social Issues
Issue Stance Issue Stance
Legally require hiring women & minorities Favors Abortion is a woman's unrestricted right Strongly Favors
Expand ObamaCare Strongly Favors Comfortable with same-sex marriage Strongly Favors
Vouchers for school choice Opposes Keep God in the public sphere Opposes
Absolute right to gun ownership Strongly Opposes Human needs over animal rights Neutral
Higher taxes on the wealthy Strongly Favors Stricter punishment reduces crime Opposes
Support & expand free trade Strongly Opposes Pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens Strongly Favors
Stricter limits on political campaign funds Strongly Favors Maintain US sovereignty from UN Strongly Opposes
Prioritize green energy Favors Expand the military Strongly Opposes
Stimulus better than market-led recovery Favors Stay out of Iran Strongly Favors
Privatize Social Security Strongly Opposes Never legalize marijuana Strongly Opposes
Note: Information last updated: 2014.[15]

Judiciary Committee

Senator Franken was first appointed to the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary shortly after he was sworn into the US Senate in June 2009.[17]

Senator Franken serves on the Senate Judiciary Subcommittees on Administrative Oversight and the Courts; Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights; and Human Rights and the Law.[18]



See also: United States Senate elections in Minnesota, 2014

Franken ran in the 2014 election for the U.S. Senate, representing Minnesota. Franken won the Democratic nomination in the primary on August 12, 2014.[2][1] He defeated Mike McFadden (R), Steve Carlson (Independence Party of America) and Heather Johnson (Libertarian) in the general election on November 4, 2014.

U.S. Senate, Minnesota General Election, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngAl Franken Incumbent 53.2% 1,053,205
     Republican Mike McFadden 42.9% 850,227
     Libertarian Heather Johnson 1.5% 29,685
     Independence Steve Carlson 2.4% 47,530
     N/A Write-in 0% 881
Total Votes 1,981,528
Source: Minnesota Secretary of State
U.S. Senate, Minnesota Democratic Primary, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngAl Franken Incumbent 94.5% 182,720
Sandra Henningsgard 5.5% 10,627
Total Votes 193,347
Source: Minnesota Secretary of State


American Encore, a conservative group partially financed by the Koch brothers, spent around $250,000 on a campaign ad against Al Franken for supporting new rules that would further limit the amount of political activity and spending of nonprofit groups.[19] In 2012, Franken and other Democratic senators wrote letters to the IRS urging them to investigate 501(c)(4) nonprofit groups. According to the regulations at the time, these groups could participate in political activity, but "Political activities may not be the organization's primary activities."[20] The proposed changes to these rules would have defined "political activity" and clarified exactly how much money nonprofits could spend on it.[21]

American Encore attacks Al Franken for regulations on the political role of nonprofits.[22]

Franken released the first ad for his re-election campaign on May 6, 2014.[23]

Al Franken 2014 campaign ad


On November 4, 2008, Franken won election to the United States Senate. He defeated Norm Coleman, Dean Barkley (I), Charles Aldrich (L), James Niemackl (C), Michael Cavlan (I, Write-In) and Anthony Keith Price (I, Write-In) in the general election. He won election after a lengthy hand recount that did not declare him the winner until after June 2009.[18][24]

U.S. Senate General Election, Minnesota, 2008
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngAl Franken 42% 1,212,629
     Republican Norm Coleman Incumbent 42% 1,212,317
     Independent Dean Barkley 15.2% 437,505
     Libertarian Charles Aldrich 0.5% 13,923
     Constitution James Niemackl 0.3% 8,907
     Independent Michael Cavlan 0% 13
     Independent Anthony Keith Price 0% 12
     Independent Write-In 0.1% 2,340
Total Votes 2,887,646

Campaign donors

Fundraising events

The below chart from Find The Best tracks the fundraising events Franken attends.

Source: This graphic was generated by Find The Best.

Comprehensive donor history

Comprehensive donor information for Franken is available dating back to 2008. Based on available campaign finance records, Franken raised a total of $22,502,124 during that time period. This information was last updated on April 24, 2013.[25]

Al Franken's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 U.S. Senate (Minnesota) Won $22,502,124
Grand Total Raised $22,502,124

Source: This graphic was generated by Find The Best.


Candidates for Congress were required to file up to seven main reports with the Federal Election Commission during the 2014 elections season. Below are Franken's reports.[26]

Al Franken (2014) Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
April Quarterly[27]April 15, 2013$1,267,414.58$1,986,442.42$(1,219,013.81)$2,034,843.19
July Quarterly[28]July 15, 2013$2,034,843.19$1,971,500.81$(1,001,181.72)$3,005,162.28
October Quarterly[29]October 15, 2013$3,005,162.28$2,082,849.31$(1,194,725.48)$3,893,286.11
Year-End Quarterly[30]December 31, 2013$3,893,286$1,781,672$(1,159,865)$4,839,250
April Quarterly[31]April 15, 2014$4,839,250.22$2,722,189.27$(1,627,588.10)$5,933,851.39
July Quarterly[32]July 15, 2014$5,933,851$3,329,829$(4,233,324)$5,030,355
Running totals

Christmas poem

In December 2013, Franken sent out a Christmas poem via email asking for funds for his re-election campaign. The poem was a play on the popular The Night Before Christmas poem by Clement Moore. Franken's version read, "'T'was the week before Christmas, and all through the state, Attention was focused on one single date, Our fundraising goal that we've set with such care, By 12/31, all the cash must be there!"

Franken concluded the email with, "I couldn't think of anything that rhymed with $98,561, but that's how much we have to raise before midnight on December 31st."[33]

Personal Gain Index

Congressional Personal Gain Index graphic.png
See also: Personal Gain Index (U.S. Congress)

The Personal Gain Index (U.S. Congress) is a four-part measurement that illustrates the extent to which members of the U.S. Congress have prospered during their tenure as public servants.
It consists of four different metrics:

PGI: Change in net worth

See also: Changes in Net Worth of U.S. Senators and Representatives (Personal Gain Index) and Net worth of United States Senators and Representatives
Net Worth Metric graphic.png

Based on congressional financial disclosure forms and calculations made available by, Franken's net worth as of 2012 was estimated between $4,320,055 and $12,806,000. That averages to $8,563,027.50, which is lower than the average net worth of Democratic senators in 2012 of $13,566,333. Franken ranked as the 17th most wealthy senator in 2012.[34] Between 2008 and 2012, Franken's calculated net worth[35] increased by an average of 7 percent per year. Between 2004 and 2012, the average annual percentage increase for a member of Congress was 15.4 percent.[36]

Al Franken Yearly Net Worth
YearAverage Net Worth
Growth from 2008 to 2012:29%
Average annual growth:7%[37]
Comparatively, the American citizen experienced a median yearly decline in net worth of -0.94%.[38]
The data used to calculate changes in net worth may include changes resulting from assets gained through marriage, inheritance, changes in family estates and/or trusts, changes in family business ownership and many other variables unrelated to a member's behavior in Congress.

PGI: Donation Concentration Metric

See also: The Donation Concentration Metric (U.S. Congress Personal Gain Index)

Filings required by the Federal Election Commission report on the industries that give to each candidate. Using campaign filings and information calculated by, Ballotpedia calculated the percentage of donations by industry received by each incumbent over the course of his or her career (or 1989 and later, if elected prior to 1988). Franken received the most donations from individuals and PACs employed by the Lawyers/Law Firms industry.

From 2007-2014, 14.07 percent of Franken's career contributions came from the top five industries as listed below.[39]

Donation Concentration Metric graphic.png
Al Franken Campaign Contributions
Total Raised $47,978,868
Total Spent $43,632,915
Top five industries that contributed to campaign committee
Lawyers/Law Firms$2,281,806
Securities & Investment$824,555
Leadership PACs$555,100
% total in top industry4.76%
% total in top two industries8.6%
% total in top five industries14.07%


Ideology and leadership

See also: GovTrack's Political Spectrum & Legislative Leadership ranking

Based on an analysis of bill sponsorship by GovTrack, Franken was a "far-left Democrat" as of July 2014.[40] This was the same rating Franken received in June 2013.

Like-minded colleagues

The website OpenCongress tracks the voting records of each member to determine with whom he or she votes most and least often. The results include a member from each party.[41]

Franken most often votes with:

Franken least often votes with:

Source: This graphic was generated by Find The Best.

Lifetime voting record

See also: Lifetime voting records of United States Senators and Representatives

According to the website GovTrack, Franken missed 5 of 1,488 roll call votes from July 2009 to July 2014. This amounts to 0.3 percent, which is better than the median of 2.0 percent among current senators as of July 2014.[42]

Congressional staff salaries

See also: Staff salaries of United States Senators and Representatives

The website Legistorm compiles staff salary information for members of Congress. Franken paid his congressional staff a total of $2,780,125 in 2011. He ranked 31st on the list of the lowest paid Democratic senatorial staff salaries and ranked 25th overall of the lowest paid senatorial staff salaries in 2011. Overall, Minnesota ranked 46th in average salary for senatorial staff. The average U.S. Senate congressional staff was paid $2,529,141.70 in fiscal year 2011.[43]

National Journal vote ratings

See also: National Journal vote ratings

Each year National Journal publishes an analysis of how liberally or conservatively each member of Congress voted in the previous year. Click the link above for the full ratings of all members of Congress.


Franken ranked 5th in the liberal rankings in 2013.[44]


Franken ranked 13th in the liberal rankings in 2012.[45]


Franken ranked 13th in the liberal rankings in 2011.[46]

Voting with party

The website OpenCongress tracks how often members of Congress vote with the majority of the chamber caucus.


Franken voted with the Democratic Party 98.8 percent of the time, which ranked 1st among the 53 Senate Democratic members as of July 2014.[47]


Franken voted with the Democratic Party 98.5 percent of the time, which ranked 2nd among the 52 Senate Democratic members as of June 2013.[48]


Franken has been married to his wife, Frannie, since 1977. The couple has two grown children.[3]

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Al + Franken + Minnesota + Senate"

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Al Franken News Feed

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See also

External links

Political Tracker has an article on:
Alan Franken


  1. 1.0 1.1 Campaign website, "About Al," accessed October 24, 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 Associated Press, "Minnesota - 2014 Primary Results," accessed August 12, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 Official Senate Site, "About Al," accessed November 2, 2011
  4. Congressional Quarterly, "Senate Committee List," accessed January 22, 2013
  5. U.S. Senate Official Website, "Committee Assignments," accessed November 2, 2011
  6. Congressional Record, "Resume of Congressional Activity, First Session of the 112th Congress," accessed September 5, 2013
  7. Congressional Record, "Resume of Congressional Activity, Second Session of the 113th Congress," accessed March 4, 2014
  8. Project Vote Smart, "PN 48 - Nomination of John Brennan to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency - Voting Record," accessed September 25, 2013
  9. Project Vote Smart, "HR 325 - To Ensure the Complete and Timely Payment of the Obligations of the United States Government Until May 19, 2013 - Voting Record," accessed September 25, 2013
  10. The Washington Post, "Reid, McConnell propose bipartisan Senate bill to end shutdown, extend borrowing," accessed October 16, 2013
  11., "H.R. 2775 As Amended," accessed October 31, 2013
  12. Project Vote Smart, "S Amdt 1197 - Requires the Completion of the Fence Along the United States-Mexico Border - Voting Record," accessed September 25, 2013
  13. Project Vote Smart, "S 47 - Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 - Voting Record," accessed September 25, 2013
  14. U.S. Senate, "Roll Call Vote on the Fiscal Cliff," accessed January 4, 2013
  15. 15.0 15.1 On The Issues, "Al Franken Vote Match," accessed June 20, 2014
  16. The questions in the quiz are broken down into two sections -- social and economic. In social questions, liberals and libertarians agree in choosing the less-government answers, while conservatives and populists agree in choosing the more-restrictive answers. For the economic questions, conservatives and libertarians agree in choosing the less-government answers, while liberals and populists agree in choosing the more-restrictive answers.
  17. "Senate Judiciary" List of previous members
  18. 18.0 18.1 Senator Al Franken, "Official Biography," accessed March 28, 2013
  19. The Wall Street Journal, "Sen. Franken Draws Attack Ad From American Encore," accessed March 27, 2014
  20. IRS, "Political Activity and Social Welfare," accessed March 27, 2014
  21. The New York Times, "New Rules Would Rein In Nonprofits’ Political Role," accessed March 27, 2014
  22. YouTube, "Senator Franken Supports Obama's Attacks on Free Speech," accessed March 27, 2014
  23. YouTube, "3.5 Million Jobs," accessed May 8, 2014
  24. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 4, 2008"
  25. Open Secrets, "Donor history for Al Franken" April 2013
  26. Federal Election Commission, "Franken 2014 Summary reports," accessed July 25, 2013
  27. FEC, "April Quarterly," accessed July 25, 2013
  28. FEC, "July Quarterly," accessed July 25, 2013
  29. FEC, "October Quarterly," accessed October 30, 2013
  30. FEC, "Year-End Quarterly," accessed February 13, 2014
  31. FEC, "April Quarterly," accessed April 28, 2014
  32. Federal Election Commission, "July Quarterly," accessed October 16, 2014
  33. The Hill, "Seeking cash, Franken pens a (bad) Xmas poem," accessed December 20, 2013
  34. OpenSecrets, "Franken, (D-MN), 2012," accessed February 18, 2014
  35. This figure represents the average annual percentage growth from either 2004 (if the member entered office in 2004 or earlier) or their first year in office (as noted in the chart below) to 2012, divided by the number of years calculated.
  36. This number was found by dividing each member's total net worth growth percentage by the number of years included in the calculation.
  37. This figure represents the total percentage growth divided by the number of years for which there are net worth figures for each member.
  38. This figure was calculated using median asset data from the Census Bureau. Please see the Congressional Net Worth data for Ballotpedia spreadsheet for more information on this calculation.
  39., "Sen. Al Franken," accessed September 17, 2014
  40. GovTrack, "Al Franken," accessed July 21, 2014
  41. OpenCongress, "Al Franken," accessed July 21, 2014
  42. GovTrack, "Al Franken," accessed July 21, 2014
  43. "Al Franken"
  44. National Journal, "2013 Congressional Vote Ratings," accessed July 21, 2014
  45. National Journal, "TABLE: House Liberal Scores by Issue Area," accessed February 26, 2013
  46. National Journal, "Searchable Vote Ratings Tables: House," accessed February 23, 2012
  47. OpenCongress, "Voting With Party," accessed July 2014
  48. OpenCongress, "Voting With Party," accessed July 2014
Political offices
Preceded by
Norm Coleman
U.S. Senate - Minnesota
Succeeded by