TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Kansas Senate president has issued a statement after the Republican Caucus voted out Gene Suellentrop as the Senate Majority leader Friday evening.
“The decision by the Senate Republican Caucus to not retain Senator Suellentrop as Majority Leader was a solemn, difficult, yet necessary choice,” said Senate President Ty Masterson. “The Senate Majority Leader is a position with significant responsibility. While the caucus would have preferred a resignation, they ultimately felt it was necessary to move forward due to the uncertainty and distraction caused by recent events. The caucus appreciates the continued leadership of Senator Alley as we conclude the people’s business this session.”
The Senate Republican Caucus voted out the former Senate Majority Leader and Wichita Republican around 6:30 p.m. according to KSNT reporters at the Kansas Statehouse. At this time, however, Suellentrop is still a senator. He was not in the room when the lawmakers voted 22 to four to remove him from his position.
They will vote May 26 on a replacement for Senate Majority leader. Assistant Majority Leader Larry Alley, who took over Suellentrop’s duties while he stepped back, will continue to do so.
A police report released to KSNT News on Suellentrop’s March 16 arrest said he called the trooper that arrested him “donut boy” and said he could take him. It also said a DUI test on the Senate Majority Leader showed his blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit when he was driving 90 miles per hour the wrong way down the highway.
Senate President Ty Masterson told KSNT News around 3:50 p.m. that he expected something else rather than a vote to remove the majority leader.
“I actually anticipate a resignation,” Masterson said. “It’s one thing to resign, and it’s one thing to be forcibly removed.”
Suellentrop drove the wrong way from Wanamaker Road to downtown Topeka on I-70 and I-470, and led law enforcement on a “short pursuit,” according to the Kansas Highway Patrol. After authorities stopped his car, arrested him and took him to the hospital for a DUI blood draw, a Shawnee County District Judge released him in his first hearing. Judge Penny Moylan cited a lack of “pertinent information” in the arresting officer’s report.
Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay later filed five formal charges against Suellentrop, who turned himself in to the Shawnee County Department of Corrections. His bond was set at $5,000, and the Senate Majority leader paid it and walked out of the jail the same night.