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Rep. Brooks Resigns Leadership Post Under Fire

By John Forester | September 27, 2018

From WisPolitics.com …

Rep. Rob Brooks’ decision to resign his leadership post but remain in the Legislature is “beyond what we expected or even wanted,” said three female GOP lawmakers who were the subject of inappropriate comments the legislator made during an off-site caucus.

But a spokesman for Scott Walker said the guv still believes Brooks, R-Saukville, should resign from the Legislature over the comments.

And Dems called the incident “very troubling” but punted on questions of whether Brooks should leave his seat.

The guv’s call for Brooks to resign followed the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s report, citing sources, that he told Rep. Jessie Rodriguez during an Assembly GOP meeting in the Wisconsin Dells that he was buying drinks for everyone except her because the Oak Creek Republican is Hispanic. Brooks also made sexual comments to GOP Reps. Cindi Duchow, of Delafield, and Amy Loudenbeck, of Clinton, the paper reported.

In a tweet, Walker called Brooks’ comments “offensive and disrespectful. They have no place in our society and are inconsistent with the high standards that must be held by those in public office. He should resign from office, period.”

Brooks, who was elected assistant majority leader for the 2017-18 session, told WisPolitics.com that he was drinking at the time of the incident and was on medication after he had been rear-ended in Madison a couple of months before the caucus.

He also acknowledged that Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, intervened following his comments and he “appreciated Mark stepping up and helping me.” Brooks said he later apologized to all four lawmakers.

“I’m going to step down from leadership to focus on my district,” Brooks said.

“We’ve all moved on. We moved on two months ago.”

Duchow, Loudenbeck and Rodriguez said in a joint statement Brooks’ July comments were “out of line” and they made their views “immediately known to him and the Assembly Chief Clerk.”

They said in the statement they were satisfied with the Assembly response and Brooks’ apology.

“While we respect his decision to resign his leadership position and appreciate the seriousness with which he takes the issue, it is beyond what we expected or even wanted,” they said. “We have put the incident behind us; we would ask kindly ask others to do the same.”

Assembly GOP leaders, meanwhile, condemned the remarks, adding they’d accepted Brooks’ resignation. The position of assistant majority leader will remain open until new leadership elections are held in November for the 2019-20 session.

“We believe the issue had been appropriately resolved but respect Rep. Brook’s decision to resign his leadership post,” the Assembly GOP leaders said.

It is the second time since 2014 that a member of the Assembly GOP leadership team has been accused of inappropriate behavior during an off-site event that involved alcohol. Former Majority Leader Bill Kramer, of Waukesha, was ousted from the No. 2 position after he was accused of groping a legislative aide and making inappropriate comments to a lobbyist during a fundraising trip to Washington, D.C. One witness said Kramer appeared to be drunk.

Later in 2014, Kramer was sentenced to jail for a separate groping incident at a GOP event in 2011.

Prior to the Assembly GOP leadership statement, Dem Reps. Dianne Hesselbein and Chris Taylor urged Speaker Robin Vos to condemn Brooks’ behavior.

Hesselbein, of Middleton, said the news was “very troubling,” telling reporters this afternoon that “alcohol is not an excuse” for the incident.

She and Taylor, of Madison, spoke at a Capitol news conference on the sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. The event came after a third woman, Julie Swetnick, accused Kavanaugh of inappropriately touching women and spiking their drinks at parties she attended in the 1980s while they were both in high school.

Taylor argued it was “the height of hypocrisy” for the guv to demand Brooks’ resignation while remaining silent on credible accusations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh and President Trump.

And she said she was “dismayed that Wisconsin Republicans continued to remain silent” on the accusations against the Supreme Court nominee.

There is no mechanism to remove Brooks’ name from the ballot, even if he had decided to resign, according to the Elections Commission.

Brooks faces Dem Chris Rahlf, of Cedarburg in the heavily Republican 60th AD; Walker won the seat with 72.9 percent of the vote in 2014, while Donald Trump won 61.5 percent there two years ago.

Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney pointed out the November ballots have already been printed and distributed, preventing Brooks’ name from being removed.

Republicans could try to mount a write-in campaign for the seat. A candidate seeking to do that would need to register with the Ethics Commission for fundraising purposes. Such a candidate also would have to register with the Elections Commission so any votes cast for that person would be counted by local clerks. Otherwise, write-ins are included under the scattering category when votes are tallied. The deadline to do that would be noon Nov. 2, the Friday before Election Day.

Meanwhile, Brooks has a fundraiser planned tomorrow with a suggested donation of $500, according to an invite obtained by WisPolitics.com. The fishing trip on Lake Michigan had limited spots available, according to the invite.

Brooks said it was a small fundraiser and he planned to check with those who had already decided to participate before deciding whether to proceed with the event.

See Journal Sentinel article here.

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