Assembly Republicans will vote Tuesday on whether to remove Assembly Majority Leader Bill Kramer, R-Waukesha, from his position amid allegations of sexual harassment he committed last week in Washington D.C.
Kramer’s office said in a statement Saturday he had checked himself into a treatment center and that “there will be no further comment at this time.”
An anonymous source told the Journal Sentinel Friday that the alleged incidents, one involving a 33-year-old lobbyist shortly after the fundraising event and another involving a woman on the flight back to Wisconsin, involved lewd remarks and groping by Kramer.
The office of Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, released a statement from Assembly Republican leaders saying the caucus will vote Tuesday on whether to remove Kramer from his position.
“We believe the serious nature of the alleged incidents require us to ask the Assembly Republican Caucus to remove Rep. Kramer from his position as the Assembly majority leader. It is clear he has lost our trust and confidence,” the statement said. “On Tuesday, Assembly Republicans will take a vote to remove him from his leadership position and we will then determine how best to fill the position of majority leader.”
The GOP leadership statement said the allegations against Kramer are serious and that they approved of Kramer seeking treatment.
“We are glad he recognizes the need to seek treatment. We hope in so doing, he will come to terms with his problems, so that no woman will ever again be subject to this alleged inappropriate behavior,” the statement said.
In a statement, Assistant Assembly Democratic Leader Sandy Pasch, D-Shorewood, called it “yet another reprehensible example of Wisconsin Republicans’ callous treatment of women in our state.”
Pasch said it was shocking that the allegations were being spun by Republicans as a “teachable moment” and an “element of tragedy” for Republican politicians.
“The ‘tragedy’ and ‘teachable moment’ here is that this disgraceful behavior has been a part of Wisconsin Republicans’ culture and actions for far too long,” Pasch said. “Wisconsin must do better for women.”
Kramer was elected majority leader after former Rep. Scott Suder, R-Abbostford, resigned his seat to take a job. Kramer was up against Rep. Dean Knudson, R-Hudson, for the leadership position.
Prior to the vote, Rep. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, raised concerns about Kramer’s inappropriate behavior at a meeting at the American Legislative Exchange Council in Chicago, according to WisPolitics.com.
On his conservative website Right Wisconsin, Milwaukee radio host Charlie Sykes questioned why the Assembly GOP caucus had turned a blind eye to Kramer’s behavior.
“It was out there, but representatives voted for him anyway,” Sykes said.
Sykes said no one was surprised by the allegations against Kramer and that if he refused to step aside it was likely more women would come forward.
“There is likely no woman in state politics who was unaware of Kramer’s pattern and practice of conduct,” Sykes said. “Sometimes it was simply inappropriate humor…But sometimes, including on out-of town-trips in which he was representing the state, it crossed the line into offensive and embarrassing.”
Former Rep. Kelda Helen Roys, D-Madison, tweeted that from her time at the Capitol, the allegations did not shock her either.