Rachel Maddow: Wisconsin GOP senator hid alleged sexual misconduct by party ‘rising star’
While a Wisconsin Republican faces allegations of sexual misconduct, it is the way some of those allegations were kept secret by U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) that is really rocking the state, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow says on her show Tuesday.
The alleged victim worked on Johnson’s staff when state Rep. Bill Kramer allegedly assaulted her in 2011. At the time, the woman declined to press charges, saying she did not want to cause “embarassment” to herself or the party. But she did inform both Johnson and his chief of staff, Tony Blando.
Maddow explained that the woman and her lawyer sent Kramer a letter warning him that if he was accused of similar behavior in the future, that she would alert the authorities. Kramer, who became majority leader in September 2013, was stripped of his powers after being accused of fondling and harassing two different women during a party fundraiser in Washington D.C. this past February.
“In the interim, he has risen steadily through the ranks of Wisconsin Republicans,” Maddow said. “He was elected majority leader for the Republicans. And in all that time, neither Senator Johnson nor his chief of staff apparently said ‘beep’ to anyone about this guy maybe being a bad choice he was for leadership.”
Johnson’s association with the alleged victim, Maddow said, came to light because of what she described as a shoddy attempt by authorities to redact the police report related to the incident with “magic marker.”
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that Johnson’s office failed to inform either Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) or former speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R), who was serving in that position at the time of the alleged attack.
“She requested that Senator Johnson and Mr. Blando keep the matter confidential and take no further action,” Johnson’s office said in a statement. “Senator Johnson and Mr. Blando fully honored her request.”
Kramer has been charged with two counts of felony sexual assault following the alleged victim’s statement to the authorities. He is scheduled to appear in court on Monday.
“From the start of this story to the present of this story, it has never felt like this story was under control,” Maddow said. “And on Monday, it will go to court. But in Wisconsin politics, it is officially out of control entirely.”
Watch Madddow’s commentary, as aired on Tuesday, below.