Following sexual misconduct accusations, Rep. Zepnick disputes being removed from committees

Following sexual misconduct accusations, Rep. Zepnick disputes being removed from committees

Wisconsin Assembly leaders have removed a legislator accused of sexual misconduct from all his committees.

Two women have accused Rep. Josh Zepnick of kissing them at a 2011 candidate party and at the 2015 state Democratic convention. Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz has called for Zepnick to resign but Zepnick has refused.

Zepnick began the 2017-2018 session serving on five committees — Energy and Utilities; Family Law; Federalism and Interstate Relations; Financial Institutions; and Mental Health.

Kit Beyer, a spokeswoman for Assembly Republican Speaker Robin Vos, told News 3 that Rep. Hebl will take Zepnick’s place on the federalism committee going forward. The committee’s webpage reflects this information.

Beyer said Tuesday that Hintz requested that Vos remove Zepnick from all those committee assignments and Vos complied.

Hintz confirmed he made the request and said he’s consulting with Democrats and Republicans to ensure “this issue” is addressed appropriately. Zepnick didn’t immediately reply to messages.

Hintz’s staff sent the following statement to News 3:

“As our leadership team indicated in our statement last Friday, we take the allegations made against Representative Zepnick very seriously. Yesterday I took one of the few disciplinary actions available to me as Minority Leader and removed Representative Zepnick from his assigned committees. 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 said in a statement Tuesday that he disagrees with the decision to remove him from committee assignments.

“I am very disappointed and disturbed by this move. I have been facing anonymous allegations all being done through news media reports.Last time I checked, there is still a US Constitution that provides something called ‘due process’ where I have the right to defend myself.I have already issued a public apology and I have made clear that I am not resigning from my position.”