MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republicans who control the Wisconsin state Assembly unanimously voted to remove the majority leader from his post Tuesday amid allegations that he groped one woman and verbally abused another during a trip to Washington last week.
State Rep. Bill Kramer, who had held the Assembly's second-most powerful position since September, wasn't at the meeting. He checked himself into a treatment facility Saturday for an unspecified reason and hasn't commented publicly about the allegations.
Kramer's chief of staff, Cameron Sholty, didn't immediately respond to email or phone messages seeking comment about the vote.
Republicans, who hold a 60-39 majority in the Assembly, met behind closed doors for about 90 minutes before opening the meeting to take the vote. Only the two lawmakers who made the motion to remove Kramer and who seconded it spoke.
"We just cannot condone that kind of activity," said state Rep. Dan LeMahieu, R-Cascade.
The ballot was secret, but it was announced that the vote to remove him was unanimous. Kramer became majority leader in September and was first elected to the Assembly in 2006.
Republicans later elected state Rep. Pat Strachota to replace Kramer as majority leader for the remainder of the year. Strachota becomes the first female majority leader in state history, but she will hold the office for less than nine months. Both she and Rep. Mary Williams, who challenged her, are retiring at the end of the year and a new leader will be elected in January.
"Today we turned a corner in a very difficult chapter of the Republican caucus," said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos following the votes.
Republican Gov. Scott Walker on Monday endorsed the move to remove Kramer, saying "I don't think there's any place for someone in a position of public trust to be in office if they've done those things." Walker, a potential 2016 presidential hopeful, is not seen as closely allied with Kramer and didn't publicly back his elevation to majority leader.
The majority leader is in charge of setting the agenda for the Assembly and working with lawmakers on the process of getting their bills through the process. In election years, like this one, the majority leader is also expected to help with fundraising and other campaign duties. All 99 Assembly seats are up for election in November.