WI Republican accused of using campaign funds to pay his lawyer in sex assault case
A Wisconsin state legislator is under fire after a review of campaign finance reports showed donor funds going to pay for an attorney representing him in a felony sexual assault case, reports WKOW.
State Rep. Bill Kramer (R-Waukesha) is currently facing two criminal counts for allegedly sexually assaulting a Senate aide three years ago following a Republican get-together. Kramer is accused of forcibly kissing the woman while groping her breasts. Following the accusations, Kramer was forced to step down as Republican leader in the assembly.
According to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Kramer has been paying his legal fees out of campaign cash, with $10,000 — listed as “Legal Fees-Compliance/Administrative”– going to the law firm of Gatzke & Ruppelt SC. A partner in the firm, James Gatzke, has been defending Kramer in his sexual assault case.
“There is no way on earth that campaign funds should be able to be used by an official to defend that official against sexual assault charges,” said Wisconsin Democracy Campaign Executive Director Mike McCabe.
McCabe explained that the usage of the funds is not allowable under current law.
“State law says you can only use campaign funds if you are being investigated for, or being charged with violations of campaign finance and election laws,” McCabe said.
According to attorney Gatzke, he is advising Kramer on several matters besides the assault allegations.
“I accompanied him to the police department for his photographing and fingerprinting,” Gatzke said. “I was serving as his attorney, but you have to remember there were a number of issues that were occurring at the same time.”
Gatzke maintains that any civil suits stemming from the assault complaints would make Kramer’s payment of campaign funds to him allowable under the law.
According to attorney Eduardo Borda, who is the attorney-of-record in Kramer’s felony assault case, Kramer is scheduled to appear at a court hearing Friday.
Kramer is not running for re-election.
Watch the video below from WKOW: