Wisconsin May Expel a State Lawmaker for the First Time in Almost 100 Years

Rep. Bill Kramer is accused of groping a political staffer at a fundraiser in Washington.

Wisconsin state Rep. Bill Kramer (R-Waukesha)
National Journal
Emma Roller
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Emma Roller
March 31, 2014, 11:50 a.m.

For the first time in al­most a cen­tury, the Wis­con­sin state Le­gis­lature may vote to ex­pel one of its mem­bers. Rep. Bill Kramer, who rep­res­ents a con­ser­vat­ive sub­urb in the south­east­ern part of the state, has been ac­cused of grop­ing and sexu­ally har­ass­ing two wo­men, nearly three years apart.

Kramer is ac­cused of sexu­ally har­ass­ing a fe­male lob­by­ist and a le­gis­lat­ive aide at a fun­draiser in Wash­ing­ton last month. He has been charged on two counts of second-de­gree sexu­al as­sault. If con­victed on both charges, Kramer could face up to 80 years in pris­on and $200,000 in fines.

Kramer, who has been in of­fice since 2006, has been a stal­wart in the Re­pub­lic­an-con­trolled Le­gis­lature since Gov. Scott Walk­er was elec­ted in 2010. Kramer has served as ma­jor­ity lead­er in the state As­sembly since Septem­ber. After the charges came to light, he was sum­mar­ily stripped of his title, but re­mains a mem­ber of the Le­gis­lature.

After the ac­cus­a­tions sur­faced, Kramer checked him­self in­to an un­spe­cified treat­ment pro­gram.

Kramer has already an­nounced he will not seek reelec­tion, but his at­tor­ney, James Gatzke, says his cli­ent has no in­ten­tion of leav­ing of­fice early. “He’s not go­ing to,” Gatzke told Na­tion­al Journ­al. “He’s de­cided to take ad­vant­age of the [crim­in­al justice] pro­cess just like any­one else is able to take ad­vant­age of the pro­cess.”

In or­der to ex­pel Kramer, two-thirds of the state As­sembly would have to vote to kick him out. The last time a Wis­con­sin state law­maker was ex­pelled was in 1917, when a so­cial­ist state sen­at­or re­fused to re­tract state­ments that were per­ceived as anti-Amer­ic­an. The state As­sembly lead­er­ship is now mulling its op­tions, and de­cid­ing wheth­er to take pun­it­ive ac­tion against Kramer be­fore he is con­victed.

Kramer is ac­cused of har­ass­ing a fe­male lob­by­ist and grop­ing a staffer at a fun­draiser in Feb­ru­ary. Spe­cific­ally, ac­cord­ing to the Mil­wau­kee Journ­al Sen­tinel:

Wit­nesses have al­leged that Kramer hugged a le­gis­lat­ive staffer and touched her breasts at a so­cial event after the D.C. fun­draiser. He also al­legedly made vul­gar re­marks about his sexu­al prowess to a lob­by­ist on that night of Feb. 26 and again the next day on a flight back to Wis­con­sin.

When a de­tect­ive asked Kramer to re­spond to al­leg­a­tions of touch­ing a wo­man’s breasts, he said the wo­man “has very nice, doc­tor-en­hanced breasts. I am not a big fan of those. I like the real ones.”

After these al­leg­a­tions came out, a sep­ar­ate fe­male polit­ic­al staffer re­por­ted an­oth­er in­cid­ent in­volving Kramer. She told po­lice that in 2011 or 2012, Kramer as­saul­ted her after a Re­pub­lic­an gath­er­ing at a loc­al bar.

In the po­lice re­port, she said Kramer was “really drunk.” They walked back to her car, and after deny­ing his sexu­al ad­vances, Kramer is said to have shoved her up against her car, for­cibly kissed her, and pushed his hands un­der her shirt to feel her breasts. Ac­cord­ing to the al­leged vic­tim, Kramer later made more un­wanted sexu­al ad­vances, grabbing her groin and ex­pli­citly telling her what he wanted to do with her.

The staffer de­scribed the in­cid­ent as a “night­mare,” but did not ini­tially re­port it for fear of pub­lic em­bar­rass­ment. She did, however, threaten to tell her story to the po­lice if Kramer ever sexu­ally har­assed her or someone else.

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