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Wisconsin Senate president: Rep. Kramer should go

  • Article by: DINESH RAMDE
  • Associated Press
  • March 29, 2014 - 3:45 PM

MILWAUKEE — Republican leaders in the state Legislature called on state Rep. Bill Kramer to resign Saturday, saying they were dismayed by allegations that he sexually assaulted a political aide three years ago.

Kramer, a Waukesha Republican, was charged Friday with two counts of second-degree felony sexual assault. He's scheduled to make an initial court appearance April 14.

Kramer used to be the Assembly's majority leader, the second-most powerful position in the Assembly. But the chamber's Republicans stripped him of the position earlier this month amid separate allegations that he sexually harassed a lobbyist and a Wisconsin legislative staffer in February.

After those allegations surfaced, pressure began to build on Kramer to resign the seat he's held since 2007. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos called on him to step aside, and Gov. Scott Walker said if the allegations against him were true, he should not hold office.

Kramer didn't resign but said he will not run for re-election in November.

The latest allegations came to light Friday with the release of a criminal complaint in which a woman told investigators Kramer shoved her against her car after a Republican event in 2011. She said he tried to kiss her, groped her breasts and told her he wanted to have sex with her.

Kramer acknowledged kissing her good night but denied groping her, according to prosecutors. The complaint quotes him as telling a detective the woman "has very nice doctor-enhanced breasts. I am not a big fan of those. I like the real ones."

Asked if the woman ever told him to stop, he replied: "I am sure she said something about it not going any further. That is why I went home. I am sure that happened, but I don't remember it. I have been turned down a lot."

Senate President Mike Ellis told The Associated Press on Saturday he was shocked by the flippancy of Kramer's comments. He said Kramer should resign, and if he doesn't but is convicted of the charges, the Assembly needs to throw him out.

"His comments are totally unacceptable," Ellis said. "Again, he hasn't been convicted, but if these allegations are true the people of Wisconsin deserve a lot better than what he's giving them."

Vos told AP the new revelations of Kramer's "abhorrent behavior" were saddening to him and tragic for the alleged victim. He said Republican leaders will meet this week to consider their options, which could include calling for legislators to return for a special session and just waiting until his term expires.

"Whether the Legislature rises to the level of expelling him is another step along that path," Vos said. "But I hope he'd make the right decision (and resign) before we'd even have to have that decision."

Kramer, 49, checked himself into an unspecified treatment facility March 1, the day after the sexual assault allegations from the Washington trip were made public.

Kramer's defense attorney, Jim Gatzke, said there was no need to rush to judgment, and that the legal process should be allowed to run its course.

"What's the rush to expel him?" Gatzke said. "Let's let him have his day in court just like everyone else."

© 2014 Star Tribune