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Senate Majority Leader Suellentrop stepping back from leadership duties

Kansas Senate Majority Leader, Gene Suellentrop (R). (March 17, 2021)
Kansas Senate Majority Leader, Gene Suellentrop (R). (March 17, 2021)(WIBW)
Published: Mar. 17, 2021 at 4:09 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Senate Majority Leader Sen. Gene Suellentrop was on the senate floor Wednesday afternoon where he addressed his Senate Republican colleagues in a closed door portion of their caucus.

Senate President Ty Masterson said, “This is closed for personal matters until we get to the legislation then you’re welcome to come in.”

Suellentrop did not speak with the media but his team did give out his formal statement.

The statement said he regrets the incident is causing a distraction for his colleagues on the issues they are debating on behalf of Kansans. And he hopes his decision to hand off duties will assure the Kansas senate will be able to continue work without interruption or delay. He is not resigning but said he will transfer the bulk of his formal duties to the assistant majority leader until his case is resolved.

Suellentrop said to the media following one of his meetings that he would not comment besides to, “Just refer to my statement.”

Fellow Republican Senator Dennis Pyle, R-Hiawatha, shared his thoughts on the matter.

“I think the question is – is there were actions taken and wrong was done and it puts all of us body in a rough spot. So will the senator step up and take responsibility for his actions and alleviate that problem,” he said.

Governor Laura Kelly, D-Kansas, did not want to comment on Suellentrop’s arrest. However, she said his release from custody yesterday is not necessarily unusual.

“If you look at what the judge did that’s pretty typical, uh, when, uh, at a first hearing... If the paperwork is not essentially completed, and you look at the time frame, I don’t think it was enough time to get all of that paperwork done,” she said.

The Kansas Highway Patrol will forward its reports to the Shawnee County District Attorney’s office to consider charges. It’s not known when their reports will be complete.

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Sen. Gene Suellentrop, R-Wichita, is stepping back from his leadership role in light of his recent DUI arrest.

In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, the Majority Leader said he will “transfer the bulk of the formal duties” of his office to the Assistant Majority Leader “until matters that I am currently dealing with are resolved.”

“I regret that this incident has caused a distraction for my colleagues and Senate staff, and most importantly, from the important issues we are debating on behalf of the people of Kansas,” his statement reads. “It is my desire that my decision today will assure that the work of the Kansas Senate will continue without interruption or delay.”

Suellentrop was absent from the Statehouse Tuesday, but was back in the chambers Wednesday.

According to the Shawnee County Department of Corrections, Gene Suellentrop was booked just before 4 a.m. Tuesday in connection with driving under the influence, speeding, improper crossover on a divided highway and attempting to run from the police. A judge ordered Suellentrop released from jail after his first appearance due to lack of probable cause, saying the officer’s report was missing pertinent information.

Several people called 911 early Tuesday to report a white SUV driving the wrong way on I-470 near Burlingame Rd. in Topeka. According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, an officer caught up with the vehicle just before 1 a.m. Tuesday, as it headed eastbound in the westbound lanes of I-70 near the Gage Blvd. exit. KHP officials said a Capitol Police Officer tried to stop the vehicle, but the driver kept going, finally stopping near the 8th St. exit. The driver was identified as Suellentrop and subsequently arrested.

“There was a report of a white SUV traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes of I-70. One of our KHP Capitol police officers heard that call and responded to see if he could locate that vehicle. Our capitol police officer did locate the vehicle and I-70 and Gage and turned around to stop the vehicle. The vehicle failed to stop for our capitol police officer. And a short pursuit followed. The vehicle did eventually come to a stop and the driver was arrested,” said KHP Lt. Candace Breshears.

KHP will be forwarding reports to the Shawnee Co. District Attorney’s Office to consider possible charges. It is not known when those reports will be complete.

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