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Assembly votes to remove Kramer as majority leader

Shawn Johnson

Wisconsin Public Radio

Assembly Republicans have voted to remove state Rep. Bill Kramer (R-Waukesha) as majority leader, electing retiring Rep. Pat Strachota (R-West Bend) to replace him for the remainder of this session.

Nobody spoke up on behalf of Kramer at Tuesday’s leadership vote, which was called soon after allegations surfaced that Kramer sexually harassed two women on a fundraising trip to Washington D.C. Assembly Republicans said the vote to remove Kramer as Majority Leader was unanimous.

Speaker Robin Vos told reporters afterward that several people witnessed Kramer's behavior in Washington.

“I was not there, so I don't know how many,” Vos said, “but I have had numerous people say that they saw it: both legislators, others who were at the event, lobbyists. It was not an action that occurred in private.”

Kramer was not at Tuesday’s leadership vote. He checked himself into a treatment center on Saturday. Vos says Kramer was impaired during one of the alleged incidents.

Vos said there were no plans to censure Kramer. He said he hoped Kramer would not seek reelection.

“Of course, if Representative Kramer comes back, there are other actions we will have to take to guarantee the safety of anybody who has concerns,” Vos said. “I have had people — more than just the victims that had the allegations reported to me — there are others who also have concerns about their own safety. So we will do whatever it takes to guarantee that no one — man, woman, staffer, lobbyist, citizen — has to deal with this situation again.”

Replacing Kramer will be Rep. Pat Strachota, who becomes the state Assembly's first ever female majority leader. Her election is largely symbolic, as Strachota is leaving the Legislature at the end of this session.

Strachota announced in February that she will retire at the end of the year, when the legislative session is complete.

A woman accused Kramer, 49, of harassing her last Wednesday during a fundraiser thrown by a lobbying and public relations firm in Washington, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The paper said another woman accused him of harassing her on the flight back to Wisconsin on Thursday.

Kramer's office released a statement on Saturday, saying he had entered a treatment facility.

Kramer's office was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday's developments.

Kramer is a lawyer and certified public accountant who has represented communities west of Milwaukee since 2006.

NOTE: Reuters contributed to this story.