Milwaukee, WI- A Wisconsin Assembly member can now add his name to the growing list of state lawmakers who have been accused of sexually harassing women they work with over the past 18 months.
Last week two women came forward alleging Wisconsin Assembly Majority Leader Rep. Bill Kramer (R.- Waukesha) sexually harassed them at a Republican convention in Washington D.C., the Journal Sentinel reported.
One of the harassment victims was a lobbyist but there are few details about the incidents available at this time, since the Wisconsin legislature is primarily concerned with doing damage control. The Leader-Telegram however reported there were multiple incidents, one last Wednesday at the convention and again Thursday on Rep. Kramer’s return flight to Wisconsin.
A source told the Journal-Sentinel that the harassment was verbal and physical but that is all that has been revealed at this time.
Once the news of the harassment surfaced, state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle began calling for Kramer’s resignation.
“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,” according to the statement by the Assembly Republican leadership which was obtained by the Leader-Telegram. “It is clear he has lost our trust and confidence.”
Rep. Kramer has had very little to say to the media about the accusations, only telling reporters that he plans to enter a rehabilitation center immediately, though he did not say why he was entering a treatment facility, according to the Leader Telegram. Entering rehab is a move reminiscent of former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner who was accused of sexually harassing close to 20 women while in office.
There is reason to be concerned about the large number of state lawmakers who have been accused of sexual harassment over the past 18 months. There have been at least three New York Assembly members accused of sexual harassment included Brooklyn pol Vito Lopez and Dennis Gabryszak an assemblyman from Cheektowaga. There was former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner. Kentucky state lawmaker John Arnold is accused of inappropriate touching and unwanted comments towards two of his female staff members. And these are only the stories that hit the national media; there could be more that never get the media’s attention.
While this is only a handful of the thousands of state lawmakers, it is still one too many incidents of sexual harassment and shouldn’t be happening at all. Lawmakers are supposed to know that sexual harassment is not acceptable behavior. And since they are public figures, they should set a much better example, and not sexually harass their coworkers or other women or men they encounter in their political lives.
Even politicians can be held accountable for sexual harassment and the victims with the assistance of a sexual harassment attorney can seek financial compensation for their emotional distress and other damages.
It does not appear that in Rep. Kramer’s case the women are planning to file a formal lawsuit at this time.