Bill Kramer has been voted out of his post as majority leader of the Wisconsin State Assembly. His fellow Republicans, who hold a 60-39 majority, unanimously voted for his removal after allegations surfaced on Friday that on a fundraising trip to Washington that occurred last week, Kramer verbally abused one woman and groped another. That same night, Republicans decided to ask him to resign his majority leader position. Kramer, the Republican representative for Waukesha, made no response to the request and checked himself into a rehabilitation center on Saturday. His lack of response led to Tuesday’s vote, the result of which makes Kramer’s return to the Assembly unlikely.
The reason for his self-imposed treatment is unknown and there has been no comment from Kramer regarding the allegations against him, nor has there been word from his chief of staff, Cameron Sholty.
Assembly Republicans on Tuesday held a closed meeting lasting approximately 1 1/2 hours before holding a public vote. The only two representatives to speak at the vote were the one who originally motioned to remove Kramer from his post and the one who seconded the motion. Alth0ugh the ballot itself was secret, it was revealed that the vote had been unanimous against Kramer.
On Monday, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, also a Republican, publicly endorsed the motion to remove Kramer from his majority leader position. Kramer’s duties as majority leader included directing the Assembly’s agenda and working alongside representatives to help their bills become law.
Known for being outspoken and confrontational, Kramer was also a strict adherent to Assembly rules. He publicly admitted that in order to protect himself, he carried a concealed weapon while on the Assembly floor. He is accused of hugging a legislative aide and touching her breasts during a social event which took place after the fundraiser. In addition, he is alleged to have made explicit sexual remarks about his skills as a lover to a lobbyist on two separate occasions during the trip.
The disgraced state representative was not at the Tuesday meeting during which he was stripped of the Assembly’s second highest position – a post he had held since September. After the vote, the speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly, Robin Vos, revealed having been approached by several people who expressed fear of Kramer’s return to the Assembly. In response to the concerns, Vos vowed to take action to ensure that anyone feeling uncomfortable around Kramer will be protected. Since the legislative session ends within a month, Kramer’s return to the Assembly for the end of this session is unlikely.
For the duration of the session, Representative Pat Strachota has been elected to fill Kramer’s post. Her election marks the first time a woman has held the position.
Governor Scott Walker and other lawmakers have begun a call for the resignation of Kramer should the allegations against him prove to be true. Kramer had previously registered to seek re-election this year, but amid growing pressure for him to resign, the likelihood of his campaigning again for the seat seems unlikely.
By Jennifer Pfalz