Wisconsin Republicans are being proactive in handling the sexual harassment issue. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) has called a mandatory meeting to discuss sexual harassment policies for staff. Legislators are invited to attend (and they should). Governor Scott Walker’s Department of Administration Secretary Scott Neitzel also asked the department heads in the executive branch to review sexual harassment policies with their employees.
For the Republicans’ trouble, state Rep. Dana Wachs (D-La Crosse), one of the seven Democratic dwarfs running for governor, criticized Vos and Walker for not doing enough.
“Despite recent revelations of sexual harassment and misconduct in Congress and at other statehouses around the country,” the press release said. “Gov. Walker and his Republican leadership have failed to take proactive steps to create a more responsive, transparent system for addressing sexual harassment at Wisconsin’s Capitol.”
The press release continued with a quote from Wachs himself. “Frankly, Gov. Walker dropped the ball. He should be leading all government agencies and the legislature on this issue, but he failed,” Wachs said. “Walker can’t simply be ignorant of the issues in his own statehouse. He can’t be ignorant to the admissions of sexual harassment and assault all across the country. Now is the time for leadership on this issue. So where is Gov. Walker?”
So let’s talk about sexual harassment and the treatment of women by politicians, and we’ll start with the obvious. Wachs complains Walker can’t be ignorant of the issues in the Capitol. If Wachs knows of an issue, we wish he would start talking publicly about it, but
Wachs was one of the Assembly Democrats who unanimously chose state Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) as their leader, despite Hintz’s arrest in a prostitution sting in a massage parlor and his threatening a former female colleague, “You’re f–k–g dead!”
In fact, we know Wachs doesn’t even feel guilty about the decision because only one Assembly Democrat returned the massage towel RightWisconsin sent to “congratulate” the Democrats on their choice of leader, and it wasn’t Wachs who returned it. We’re hoping that he’s using the towel appropriately.
Now let’s look at the other side of the record. In 2014, then-Assembly Majority Leader Rep. Bill Kramer (R-Waukesha) was accused of sexual assaulting a woman at a 2011 Republican event in Muskego. Vos and his Assembly colleagues quickly moved to remove Kramer from his leadership position and called for his resignation. Walker also called on Kramer to step down. Eventually, Kramer chose not to run for re-election and also pled guilty to the charges.
As for Wachs’ complaint that Walker can’t be ignorant “of sexual harassment and assault all across the country,” how ignorant is Wachs? Has Wachs issued one statement criticizing Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)? Or is Wachs content to wait like his fellow Democrat Sen. Tammy Baldwin to see what the Senate Ethics Committee decides about her financial contributor?
Or Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)? Is Wachs going to believe all women who complain of sexual harassment, or is he going to disagree with his fellow Democrat Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that because Conyers is “an icon” he gets the benefit of the doubt?
Let’s even ask where was Wachs during the 2016 campaign when Hillary Clinton was the Democratic nominee? She was President Bill Clinton’s chief enabler, including the handling of the “bimbo eruptions” as the 1992 Clinton campaign called complaints about the former president’s behavior. Did Wachs support Hillary anyway? Did he support Clinton in 1992? Or 1996? Or during the impeachment? Did Wachs believe all of President Bill Clinton’s accusers, or did he get a pass from Wachs?
(Question: As Democrats re-discover sexual harassment, will their new fondness for monument toppling extend to the Kennedys at Arlington National Cemetery?)
The voters are entitled to know when Wachs suddenly became aware of harassment of women in the workplace since his record doesn’t show any previous concern before the press release on Monday.
Interestingly, when Walker was too slow to criticize Alabama gubernatorial candidate Roy Moore for the Democrats’ liking, the Wisconsin governor was criticized by Democratic members of the legislature for not automatically believing Moore’s accusers. (Walker later made a stronger statement later calling on Moore to step aside.) None of those same Democrats have called on Franken, Conyers or even Hintz to resign, nor have they expressed any regret about supporting the Clintons.
Women who complain about sexual misconduct and mistreatment in the workplace are only to be heard when the target of those complaints is a Republican. If Wachs is serious – finally – about showing women respect, it’s a conversation he needs to have with his own political party.