GOP State Majority Leader Charged With Felony After Fleeing Police Officers

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Kansas state Senate Majority Leader Gene Suellentrop, a Republican, is now facing felony and misdemeanor charges following a drunk driving incident in which he was speeding down a highway in the Topeka area while going the wrong direction. Once police officers were on the scene, Suellentrop — who turned himself in on Friday — attempted to elude law enforcement, adding to his criminal behavior. As of this weekend, he’s still serving in the state Senate, but he’s tasked Assistant Majority Leader Larry Alley (R) with handling leadership responsibilities.

As explained by The Kansas City Star, Suellentrop’s charges emerged “hours after the Kansas Highway Patrol said it had completed its investigation and sent it to the prosecutor’s office with the results of a blood toxicology test.” Now, Suellentrop’s charges from Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay include “felony fleeing and eluding police, misdemeanor driving under the influence and reckless driving and two traffic infractions for speeding and driving the wrong way on a highway,” according to the Star.

Suellentrop was initially arrested on March 16, and apparently, during his initial drunk driving, he almost hit another car on the roadway, underscoring the seriousness of the situation. The state Senator was released shortly after his initial arrest after a judge concluded that the Kansas Highway Patrol hadn’t provided “pertinent information” to justify his continued presence in custody.

Suellentrop “failed to stop when police located him driving east in the westbound lanes near the Gage exit on Interstate-70, leading Capitol Police on a five minute pursuit,” the Star explains, based on recent revelations from the Kansas Highway Patrol. According to additional reporting on the criminal complaint against Suellentrop by a publication called the Kansas Reflector, Suellentrop “failed to stop for a police roadblock, drove around a tire deflating device placed by a police officer, engaged in reckless driving, was involved in a motor vehicle accident, [and] intentionally caused damage to property.”

Suellentrop is not the only Republican state official who has recently faced legal trouble. Last month, South Dakota state Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, a Republican, was charged with three misdemeanors over an incident late last year when he hit and killed a pedestrian. Late last month, a bipartisan group of South Dakota state legislators introduced a resolution calling for Ravnsborg’s impeachment. He’s claimed that he did not initially know that he’d hit a person at all — but the victim’s glasses were eventually found inside of Ravnsborg’s car, undercutting his account.