Mary Franson on Facebook accusation she drove drunk: "It's disgusting"

"I don't have anything to explain," Franson told City Pages.

"I don't have anything to explain," Franson told City Pages.

Last Friday, Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, went out with some friends to Rudy's Redeye Grill in Alexandria for drinks and karaoke.

SEE ALSO: Mary Franson dismisses restraining order against Eric Harpel

Franson says she had two drinks in three hours and was more than sober enough to drive herself home. But as she prepared to exit the bar and restaurant, something strange happened -- one of the employees began "interrogating" her about how she was going to get home and then began "laughing at [her] hysterically," according to Franson.

It seemed to Franson that she was being ridiculed, and as she left she had a strange premonition that employees might call the cops as part of an effort to "harass" her.

[jump] On her way home, she says she was followed by a cop for a bit, but wasn't pulled over. And that was that.

Or so she thought. The next day, this post, written by an employee at Rudy's, surfaced on Facebook:


The post was 'liked' by Serena Lehman, the employee who "interrogated" Franson on her way out. So essentially, here were two employees accusing a state legislator of driving drunk from their bar.

We called Franson yesterday to hear what she had to say about the allegation. Our first conversation was very brief, with Franson simply telling us to call Brad, the Redeye's bar manager, to get his take on what happened. (Brad did not return phone calls requesting comment.)

"I went there yesterday, and the manager is very upset about the whole thing," Franson said. 

But seconds after our brief exchange, Franson called back and opened a vein. She called the accusations "disgusting" and "unfounded" and says that those who made them "should be ashamed."

When the Facebook post surfaced, "people who were there [with me Friday night] were in shock," Franson said. "They know that's not my character."

Franson, who has two previous convictions for careless driving, admits that she's "a horrible driver." But when she was a girl, her family was devastated by an accident involving a drunk driver, so she says she would never get behind the wheel while intoxicated.

She characterized the Facebook post and responses to it -- including a since-deleted blog post by the Minnesota Progressive Project's Eric Pusey entitled "People are saying horrible things about Mary Franson on Facebook" -- as an attempt to "victimize a single female who chooses to have a social life."

She pointed out that the worker behind the post is Facebook friends with a Democratic activist in northwest Minnesota. The bar worker and her Democratic-activist friend "tried to make this into a political issue," Franson said, adding that it might cost the Redeye employees their jobs. "What do you think their chances of finding another job in the hospitality industry are?"

As for the allegation that she "macked on someone else's man all night," Franson said she can only laugh about it.

"I was there with my campaign treasurer and his girl friend -- not his girlfriend, but his girl friend -- and another friend of his," she said, adding that she made a point to be on her best behavior because, "there were a lot of constituents there."

Franson, a first-term legislator whose gaffe-filled year began with an infamous comparison of food stamp recipients and wild animals, characterized the interest surrounding the Facebook post as part of a "ridiculous witch hunt."

"You should recognize that this is part of a smear campaign," she said. "Are you also going to write about which songs I sang off-key on?"