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MADISON, Wis. - The
Republican majority leader in the state Assembly has been asked to resign his
post because of allegations that he sexually harassed multiple women at a
fundraiser in Washington, two Republicans with direct knowledge of the
situation told The Associated Press on Saturday.
Rep. Bill Kramer, of
Waukesha, was elected by Republican Assembly members as majority leader in
September. He could not immediately be reached for comment Saturday.
The Republicans who
know about the allegations said that GOP Assembly leaders met late Friday to
discuss the situation and agreed that Kramer should step down as majority
leader. They spoke anonymously because attorneys had not authorized them to
Kramer was also asked
to consider whether to resign his seat in the Legislature, the Republicans
Speaker Robin Vos , of Rochester, released a statement Friday in response to
the allegations concerning Kramer. The statement said “Recently I was made
aware of serious allegations regarding inappropriate behavior by Rep. Kramer.
Since I learned of those allegations I have been consulting with legal
counsel and other legislators to understand what options are available. The
alleged behavior is reprehensible and won’t be tolerated. I expect that members
of the Wisconsin State Legislature should always hold themselves to the highest
standards and that’s why this matter will be dealt with swiftly.”
released a two-sentence statement Saturday saying the Waukesha Republican was
entering treatment and would have no further comment.
On Saturday, Rep. Vos
put out another statement.
made against Rep. Kramer are very serious and 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 read. "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. 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
Kramer, who was first
elected in 2006, represents a heavily Republican district and is part of a
60-39 GOP majority in the Assembly. The 49-year-old did not immediately return
a phone message or email left at his Capitol office Saturday morning, and no
listed home phone number was available for him. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
went to Kramer's home Friday night but he was not there.
Kramer's chief of
staff, Cameron Sholty, told the Journal Sentinel that Kramer would be meeting
with staff Saturday and talking with fellow Republican lawmakers over the next
48 hours. He declined further comment to the newspaper. No listed home phone
number could be found for Sholty.
Kramer and other Republicans
from the Senate and Assembly were in Washington on Wednesday for an annual
fundraiser held at the offices of lobbying and public relations firm BRG Group.
The Republicans who
spoke to the AP said Kramer allegedly groped at least one woman Wednesday night
in a bar and said something inappropriate to at least one woman on the flight
back Thursday. One Republican told the AP he spoke with the alleged victims and
felt the allegations were serious enough to ask Kramer to resign as majority
Kramer, who is single,
is an attorney and CPA. He was elected to take over for Scott Suder as majority
leader, but the choice divided Assembly Republicans.
The majority leader is
second in power only to the speaker of the Assembly. The job involves
scheduling bills and directing action during debate.
Kramer was up against
Rep. Dean Knudson, and one of Knudson's backers spoke pointedly prior to the
vote that Kramer had acted inappropriately in the past.
happen ever," Rep. Chris Kapenga said in September. "We can't have
sexual innuendos. We can't have bad language in the public."
Kramer is known for
his sometimes flamboyant and confrontational style, especially during his
previous role presiding over the Assembly.
He often displayed his
knack for knowing the legislative district numbers of all 99 members and often
broke out into loud laughter while joking with Democrats and Republicans alike.
But he was also
visibly testy regarding the frequent protests and interruptions from spectators
in the gallery, including during the marathon 61-hour filibuster over the
collective bargaining bill in 2011. Kramer was a strict enforcer of Assembly
rules barring signs, cameras, clapping or other outbursts.
Kramer also has said
he sometimes carries a concealed handgun onto the floor of the Assembly for his
own personal safety.
Saturday, March 1 2014, 05:50 PM CST
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