Democrats at the Wisconsin Capitol say a freshman lawmaker from Green Bay needs to step down after he harassed a female statehouse worker.

The details of just what Rep. Staush Gruszynski, D-Green Bay, did or said are still not known.

Gruszynski on Thursday said he drank too much at a Madison bar and made “inappropriate comments” to the woman.

“In October I made a terrible mistake after drinking too much in a Madison bar. That evening, I made inappropriate comments to a female staffer and a sexual harassment claim was filed,” Gruszynski said. “I fully cooperated with Human Resources throughout this process. I want to apologize directly to that staffer and everyone that was involved that evening. My conduct was unprofessional and completely unacceptable.”

Gruszynski said he sought counseling because of his behavior.

“I need to be responsible for my actions and following that night I’ve taken steps with my family, and more importantly myself, to rebuild what I’ve broken,” Gruszynski added. 

That’s not enough for his fellow Democrats. 

“We have zero tolerance for sexual harassment at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and expect elected leaders to hold themselves to the same standard,” Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Ben Wikler said Thursday. “It is on all of us to create a culture of mutual respect and trust in the workplace and in our communities, and we are deeply disappointed that one of our own members contributed to this pervasive issue.”

Wikler said Gruszynski needs to step down. 

Some of the toughest words came from Democratic leader state Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh. 

“We are committed to preventing and stopping incidents of harassment whenever they may occur in the Legislature,” Hintz said in a statement. “It’s our job to create a culture of accountability and to ensure members and legislative employees are held to a high standard of conduct. Rep. Gruszynski failed to meet these standards with his actions.”

Gruszynski has been stripped of his committee assignments and is no longer welcome to meet with Democrats in the Assembly. 

Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square. Reposted with permission.