Democrat Franken to leave Senate on January 2

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Democratic Senator Al Franken, who earlier this month announced his plan to resign following sexual misconduct allegations against him, will step down on Jan. 2, a representative for the lawmaker said on Wednesday.

The 66-year-old former comedian from Minnesota had been seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party, but faced growing calls from fellow Senate Democrats to step down as allegations against him mounted.

Franken is one of several influential men who have lost their jobs after being accused of sexual misconduct, assault or harassment, including Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein and journalists Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose and Tavis Smiley.

He will be the third lawmaker facing misconduct allegations to depart from Congress following Democratic Representative John Conyers and Republican Representative Trent Franks. Two others, Democratic Representative Ruben Kihuen and Republican Representative Blake Farenthold, have said they will not seek re-election next year.

Franken has denied some of the allegations against him and questioned others. Reuters has not independently verified any of the allegations.

Minnesota’s Democratic governor, Mark Dayton, last week appointed Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith, who is also a Democrat to fill Franken’s seat.

Smith, 59, will serve a one-year term concluding in January 2019, Dayton said, and will run in a special election for the seat next November.

Reporting by Richard Cowan; Writing by Tim Ahmann and Katanga Johnson; Editing by David Alexander and Peter Cooney