Saturday, August 17th, 2019

Selective outrage: Democrats forget recent past to score political points

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Waukesha Freeman 12/11/14 Page A4 Opinion

Selective outrage

Democrats forget recent past to score political points

With the sentencing of state Rep. Bill Kramer to five months in jail and the election of his successor Scott Allen, most Waukesha residents probably thought the issue was over. For the Democrats, however, nothing is over when they think there is an opportunity to score cheap political points.

Because Kramer did not resign from the state Assembly, nor was he removed from office, he continues to collect his salary until the end of his term. The state Democratic Party couldn’t resist taking one last shot.

Spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff issued a press release that showed the same care for accuracy of her predecessor, Graeme Zielinski. “Bill Kramer sexually assaulted at least one woman and faced allegations from two others — it is an absolute outrage that Robin Vos refused to expel him from the Assembly or at the very least publicly demand his resignation,” she wrote.

Actually, Assembly Speaker Vos, Governor Scott Walker and others did demand his resignation back in March.

Legislative leaders even explored expelling Kramer. What the members of the Legislature found out is that only one member has ever been expelled, and that was back in 1917.

Republicans probably also remembered how the Democrats fought against the expulsion of state Rep. Jeff Wood. He was a former Republican who became an independent who sided with the Democrats.

Wood was arrested for driving under the influence three times in a single year, five times overall. Despite Wood’s conduct in office, the Democrats in the Assembly protected him and he escaped with a censure. When the Democrats needed him for a vote on labor contracts in a lame duck session after the 2010 election, they got him released from treatment and brought him to the Capitol.

Perhaps Baldauff conveniently forgot all of these things, or perhaps she was just being dishonest when she issued her press release. Regardless, even Baldauff’s fellow Democrat state Rep. Fred Kessler would disagree with her about expelling Kramer.

To be fair, Kessler and Kramer were the Orrin Hatch and Ted Kennedy of the Assembly. But at the time Kramer was charged with sexual assault, Kessler cautioned against ousting his colleague from across the aisle because it could interfere with the prosecution.

There were also legitimate concerns that the victim would be dragged into the spotlight as Kramer defended himself. It’s not worth subjecting a sexual assault victim to unwanted publicity just so the Democrats can score political points.

However, if Baldauff is really concerned about how members of the state Assembly treat women, then I’m looking forward to her next press release to call on Democratic state Rep. Gordon Hintz to resign. Hintz was caught in a prostitution sting at a massage parlor and once screamed at a female colleague, “You’re [expletive] dead!”

Instead of being run out of the Assembly by his Democratic colleagues, Hintz had no primary opposition and actually won reelection. I’m sure Baldauff finds Hintz’s continued presence in the Assembly intolerable.

Kramer will be gone as soon as his successor is sworn in. Republicans moved swiftly to remove him from leadership and call for his resignation. It would be nice if the Democrats worried about policing their own.

*** Mayor Shawn Reilly will not be handing out “keys to the city” this year. Let’s be thankful this holiday season we’re spared the long spectacle.

Reilly’s predecessor Jeff Scrima handed out the honors every year at Christmastime. Some recipients were worthy of some recognition. Others were simply supporters of the ex-mayor. Some recipients were even cringe-inducing.

Rather than hand out honors like Christmas presents, the Common Council can always pass a resolution when someone does something particularly praiseworthy.

As for the “key to the city,” let’s keep that in reserve for when someone truly noteworthy comes to Waukesha.

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