(WRN) -- An embattled state lawmaker says he’s “disappointed and disturbed” by a decision to remove him from his assigned committees, in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations.
Democratic leadership requested state Representative Josh Zepnick’s removal from five legislative committees he serves on, following a Capital Times report last week in which two women accused him of trying to kiss them at party events without their consent. Zepnick has apologized for the incidents, while resisting calls to resign from his seat.
In a statement released late Tuesday, the Milwaukee Democrat described the accusations as “anonymous allegations” being made through the media. “Last time I checked, there is still a US Constitution that provides something called “due process” where I have the right to defend myself,” he said.
Zepnick added that he hopes the move is just a temporary measure, and vowed to continue doing the job he was elected to do. He said any decision about whether or not he will seek re-election in 2018 will be made “at the appropriate time in my life.”
Zepnick Removed from Legislative Committees
Tuesday, December 5, 2017 | by Andrew Beckett l WRN
(WRN) -- A Democratic state lawmaker accused of sexual misconduct has been removed from his assigned legislative committees.
State Representative Josh Zepnick (D-Milwaukee) has been facing calls to resign from his seat, after The Capital Times reported on Friday that two women claimed he tried to kiss them during political events in 2011 and 2015. One of the women was a staff members with the Democratic Party of Wisconsin at the time, while the other was a legislative employee.
Zepnick has apologized, but has so far said he will not resign from his seat.
A spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos confirmed Tuesday morning that Minority Leader Gordon Hintz had requested that Zepnick be removed from all of his current committee assignments – a request the speaker granted.
Zepnick has been scheduled to appear at a meeting of the Assembly Committee of Federalism and Interstate Relations, but was replaced at the last minute by Rep. Gary Hebl (D-Sun Prairie). Hebl has been named as a permanent replacement. It’s not yet known who will replace Zepnick on other committees he was assigned to.
In a statement, Hintz said Democratic leaders continue to take the allegations against Zepnick seriously. “Yesterday I took one of the few disciplinary actions available to me as Minority Leader and removed Representative Zepnick from his assigned committees,” he said “Moving forward, I will consult with members of the Assembly Democratic Caucus, as well as the majority party, to ensure this issue is addressed in an appropriate manner.”
Zepnick did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Wisconsin Rep. Zepnick Apologizes, But Refuses to Resign
Monday, December 4, 2017 | by Andrew Beckett l WRN
(WRN) -- A Democratic state lawmaker accused of trying to kiss two women at political events is apologizing for the incidents, but said he will not be resigning.
State Representative Josh Zepnick (D-Milwaukee) released a statement over the weekend, after two unidentified women told The Capital Times that he tried to kiss them at events in 2015 and 2011. One of the women was a state Democratic Party employee, while the other was a legislative staff member at the time. Both said Zepnick was drunk.
Zepnick said he does not recall either incident, although he added that it’s no excuse for the behavior and apologized for any distress he had caused. He noted that he’s a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for two years and that his “life is back on track.”
Democratic party leaders and several fellow Assembly Democrats have argued Zepnick should step down in the wake of the allegations. Rep. Jimmy Anderson (D-Fitchburg) said in a statement that lawmakers should hold themselves to a higher standard. “If we are going be leaders in our community then we must lead within our workplace,” he said.
Assembly Republicans were critical of Zepnick, but stopped short of calling on him to resign. In a joint statement issued Saturday, GOP leadership called the alleged behavior “reprehensible,” adding that Zepnick “has the responsibility to reflect on whether he can effectively represent his district in light of these circumstances and then, decide what’s best for his constituents and the institution as a whole.”
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