Records: Staffer accused lawmaker of drunken proposition
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The state Assembly’s chief clerk released records of a legislative aide’s sexual harassment complaint against a freshman Democratic lawmaker, months after news organizations sued to gain access to them.
The heavily redacted documents include a complaint from a staffer who said Rep. Staush Gruszynski tried to coax her into having sex with him last year. Assembly Chief Clerk Pat Fuller, who had denied a December open records request from The Associated Press and three Wisconsin media outlets for the documents, released them to the outlets’ attorneys Wednesday, a day after Gruszynski lost his seat in a primary.
Gruszynski said in a statement Thursday that the documents confirm he was “black out drunk.” He apologized and expressed remorse.
“There is nothing in these documents that say this was calculated, this was physical, or that I tried to follow the staffer home,” he said.
The documents show a staffer filed a formal complaint with the Legislature’s human resources office on Nov. 26. Her name was redacted from the records.
According to her complaint, she and her friends met Gruszynski at the Malt House, a Madison bar, on Oct. 30. She said she knew Gruszynski had been drinking earlier in the night and she agreed to meet him to help him sober up.
As they sat at the bar he told her that he’d had his eye on her for years and he knew she felt the same way about him and asked her to have sex with him. She refused, telling him that he was married and that sex between a legislator and an aide would be inappropriate, and left the bar.
The office met with Gruszynski on Dec. 12, according to the documents. He said that he had been drinking heavily that night and he didn’t remember meeting the aide at the Malt House. He said he pieced together the evening using bar receipts and an Uber app, which showed he got a ride to the Malt House. He added that someone told him that he had made inappropriate remarks to the staffer. That person’s name was redacted.
The records included Facebook messages that Gruszynski traded with the staffer that night before they met at the Malt House in which he pressed her about where she was and whether they could meet. The staffer tried to put him off, responding with a laughing emoticon and asking him if he needed a ride before finally suggesting they meet at the Malt House.
He told the interviewers that he wanted to apologize to the aide, that he had told his wife what happened and that he was trying to save his marriage. He said he had been drinking heavily since September but after that night he quit. He said he didn’t want to be the person he is and began to cry.
The media outlets sued in March to obtain the documents.
Amanda Jorgenson, a manager in the Legislature’s human resources office, told the organizations’ attorneys that the office treats internal employee complaints as confidentially as possible and the complaint’s privacy outweighs the public interest in disclosing the documents.
Gruszynski was first elected to the Assembly in 2018. His district includes most of the city of Green Bay.
He was ordered to attend anti-harassment training. Assembly Democratic leaders stripped him of his committee assignments, but he refused their requests to resign. Green Bay Area School Board Vice President Kristina Shelton easily defeated him in Tuesday’s primary.
This story has been updated to correct that staffer was not married.
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