Subscribe for 33¢ / day

Gov. Scott Walker said Friday the alleged sexual misconduct of two Democratic elected officials is unacceptable, but stopped short of calling for their resignations. 

"I think they're very troubling, the issues that have been raised about them," Walker said of allegations against state Rep. Josh Zepnick, D-Milwaukee, and Milwaukee City Treasurer Spencer Coggs. 

Zepnick is accused of having kissed two women without their consent at political events in 2011 and 2015. In 2015, the Legislature paid $75,000 to a former Coggs aide who complained of sexual harassment, discrimination and wrongful termination while Coggs was a state senator.

"In terms of where I have control over, obviously I don't control the Legislature or municipal leaders in Milwaukee," Walker said.

The governor said his administration takes the issue of sexual harassment "very seriously" and has had an "aggressive policy" against sexual misconduct since he took office in 2011. He also noted that a 2016 law overhauling the state civil service system added sexual harassment as a fireable offense in state government.

"I think our enforcement of our laws and rules make it pretty clear, we wouldn't accept things like that," Walker said when asked whether Zepnick and Coggs would remain employed if they worked for him.

As Madison as it gets: Get Cap Times' highlights sent daily to your inbox

Others have called for Zepnick's resignation, including Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, and Democratic Party of Wisconsin chairwoman Martha Laning. Zepnick was removed from his Assembly committee assignments, but has said he will not step down. He said he regrets his behavior, but is being treated unfairly.

Coggs has denied the allegations against him. State Rep. Jimmy Anderson, D-Fitchburg, has called for his resignation, but no Milwaukee officials have joined.

Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.

Jessie Opoien covers state government and politics for the Capital Times. She joined the Cap Times in 2013 and has also covered Madison life, race relations, culture and music. She has also covered education and politics for the Oshkosh Northwestern.