Connect with Isthmus:         Newsletters 

Thursday, March 5, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 8.0° F  Fair
The Daily
Share on Google+
Former Wisconsin lawmaker Kelda Helen Roys recalls colleague Bill Kramer pushed personal boundaries
on (2) Comments
Kramer has made no public comment on the allegations.

Former state Rep. Kelda Helen Roys says there were times when she served in the state Assembly with Bill Kramer that the Republican from Waukesha made her uncomfortable.

"He would stand a little too close ... or touch me on the back in a way that wouldn't be appropriate for people who didn't really know each other," says Roys, a Madison Democrat who served from 2008 to 2012. "It wasn't sexual harassment or anything like that, but it was uncomfortable and too familiar."

Roys, as a result, asked Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) at the start of her second term in office to not appoint her to any committees on which Kramer also served. Roys and Kramer already served together on the Assembly's Organization Committee and Rules Committee, in their respective roles as Democratic Caucus Chair and Assembly Speaker Pro Tem.

For the most part, however, Roys says that most of her interactions with Kramer were "professional" and "not problematic."

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Saturday on allegations that Kramer -- who was first elected in 2006 and became majority leader in September -- sexually harassed two different women during a GOP fundraising trip to Washington, D.C. On Tuesday, Assembly Republicans voted to remove him from his leadership post, replacing him with Rep. Pat Strachota (R-West Bend), who is not seeking reelection this fall.

Kramer has since checked himself into treatment and has made no public comment on the allegations.

After the Journal Sentinel report on the scandal appeared, Roys tweeted a link to the story, adding, "From my time in the Capitol, sadly, this doesn't shock at all."

Conservative pundit Charlie Sykes is on the same page. "I don't know a single conservative woman in the state who wasn't aware of his language and words," Sykes told Isthmus in a phone interview. "I think it was widely known that this was going to be an issue at some point.”

In fact, Rep. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) called out Kramer's behavior in front of the entire Republican Assembly caucus before the vote for majority leader in September, according to a report at the time.

Roys says she remembers Kramer's "adolescent" sense of humor and obnoxious comments, but says she tolerated his antics because they did not cross "the line."

"Had he done something that was clearly over the line, obviously I would have taken further steps," Roys says. "Like in any work situation, you do your best to maintain an interpersonal relationship with your colleagues, and not cause undue conflict."

Sykes, who wrote a blog post about the issue, also said that Kramer had "crossed the line" with his behavior in Washington, D.C.

Both Roys and Sykes believe alcohol could explain the escalation of Kramer's behavior to physical harassment.

"That seems to be the pattern, that [Kramer] would have a lot to drink and would engage in these kinds of behaviors," says Sykes.

Rep. Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan), who presided over the vote to oust Kramer and was one of the Assembly Republicans to publicly criticize him, did not return requests for comment about why Kramer's behavior went unchecked before last week's incidents. Kapenga and Strachota did also not return calls.

Share on Google+
Show 2 Comments

Log in or register to comment

Select a Movie
Select a Theater

Promotions Contact us Privacy Policy Jobs Newsletters RSS
Collapse Photo Bar