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Republicans oust Gene Suellentrop from his position as Kansas Senate Majority Leader

Gene M. Suellentrop mug shot.jpg
Posted at 7:18 PM, Apr 09, 2021

TOPEKA, Kan. — Republicans have ousted a powerful Kansas lawmaker charged with drunken driving from his leadership job.

The move against Kansas Senate Majority Leader Gene Suellentrop on Friday followed the release of a document saying he taunted the Highway Patrol trooper who arrested him and called the officer "donut boy."

It was the first time in at least several decades that a Kansas legislative leader's colleagues pushed him out before the end of his or her term.

Suellentrop is a Wichita Republican who had been set to be majority leader through 2024.

Republican senators voted 22-4 to remove Suellentrop during a 50-minute meeting that was closed to reporters and the public.

Suellentrop will remain in the Senate.

He came to the Statehouse on Friday but wasn't present Thursday after a judge released an affidavit from the officer who arrested him.

He did not answer his cellphone Friday, and it didn't allow for a voicemail message seeking comment.

Aides said he was in meetings during a break in the Senate's session.

Suellentrop faces five counts, including a felony fleeing to avoid arrest and a misdemeanor driving under the influence charge.

The Highway Patrol officer's affidavit said Suellentrop's blood-alcohol level after his arrest was .17, more than twice the legal limit in Kansas of .08.

Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Austin Shepley said in his affidavit that Suellentrop refused to take a breathalyzer test and was taken to a Topeka hospital for a blood test after a judge issued a warrant.

At one point, he called Shepley "donut boy," according to the affidavit, and said the events were "all for going the wrong way."

"While the phlebotomist was administering the blood kit, Gene Suellentop's demeanor becoming slightly aggressive in his tone, he made reference to physically going up against me," Shepley said. "He looked me up and down, stating he played state sports competitively in high school.

He stated he could `take me."'