Two prominent lawmakers responded after a downtown Topeka restaurant banned them from its premises.
Speaker of the House Ron Ryckman put out this statement:
“Legislators value all of the Topeka businesses that host events during the session. From the first orientation for new members, we talk about treating our hosts with respect and acknowledging that we are guests in the Capital City. From the newest member of the body to every member of leadership the standard is the same. The rules apply to each and every one of us. That has always been the case and that will continue to be the case.”
Ottawa Representative Blaine Finch, Speaker Pro Tem of the House, was also named as one the legislators involved in the Topeka Capitol Journal’s report.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in Topeka, it’s that you can’t believe everything you read,” Finch said. “As a representative and personally, I try to always conduct myself in a professional and respectful way whether that’s at work or at social events. Let me be clear, I’ve never been asked to leave a business, and I know of no legislator who has. At the end of the day, we can’t let this kind of tabloid gossip get in the way of the work that needs to be done for our state.”
Owners of the White Linen say they had to kick out Ryckman, Finch and other lawmakers for being rowdy last week.
In a Facebook post on the White Linen’s page from Feb. 27, the same night of the incident, owners Adam and Kasie VanDonge said, “it has come to our attention we need to be more explicit about our alcohol policies.”
Adam VanDonge confirmed the post came after an altercation with Kansas House Speaker Ron Ryckman and other legislators including Rep. Blaine Finch, Rep. Susan Concannon, and lobbyists Dan Murray and Rachelle Colombo.
The incident came after a restaurant manager made the decision to cut off the group from liquor. VanDonge said they were asked to leave, and banned from returning.
When asked about the White Linen incident Friday morning, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly said if true, a possible punishment is up to the legislative branch to determine.
“I believe in the separation of powers, and that is the legislative branch,” Kelly said. “I’ll let the legislative leadership decide what to do.”