Former Kansas Senate Leader Is Going to Jail for 2 Days

Republican lawmaker Gene Suellentrop pleads no contest to DUI, reckless driving
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2021 7:52 AM CDT
Updated Oct 25, 2021 2:42 PM CDT
Cops: Arrested GOP Leader Called Kansas Cop 'Donut Boy'
This photo provided by the Shawnee County Jail shows Kansas Senate Majority Leader Gene Suellentrop after being booked for an arrest, Tuesday, March 16, 2021, in Topeka, Kan.   (Shawnee County Jail via AP)

(Newser) Update: Kansas Sen. Gene Suellentrop has pleaded no contest to misdemeanor DUI and reckless driving charges as part of a plea deal that will allow him to keep his job. The Republican—who was arrested in March after he was seen driving the wrong way on I-470 in Topeka—will spend two days in jail, pay a $775 fine, take part in a drug and alcohol intervention program, and have an ignition interlock device installed in his vehicle, the Kansas City Star reports. A felony charge of attempting to flee law enforcement officers, which could have triggered his removal from office, has been dropped. The former Kansas Senate majority leader was removed from his leadership role in April. Our original story from April 9 follows:

In an affidavit, Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Austin Shepley describes his interactions March 16 with what he says was a rude and uncooperative alleged drunk driver who had been going the wrong way on I-470 in Topeka in the early hours of March 16—and who turned out to be one of the state's most powerful lawmakers. Shepley says Kansas Senate Majority Leader Gene Suellentrop declined to submit a breath sample and became combative after a warrant was issued for a blood sample, the Topeka Capitol-Journal reports. The 69-year-old "made reference to physically going up against me," Shepley writes. "He looked me up and down, stating he played state sports competitively in high school. He stated he could 'take me.'" He says Suellentrop also called him "donut boy" and complained that it was "all for going the wrong way."

Shepley says he saw Suellentrop's SUV almost hit several oncoming vehicles—including his own—before he started a 10-minute pursuit that ended with his second attempt at a tactical vehicle intervention. He says he could "smell the odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from inside the vehicle" and Suellentrop appeared "confused and frightened," reports CNN. A blood sample taken three hours after Suellentrop was stopped had a reading of more than twice the legal limit. Suellentrop stepped back from most of his leadership duties after charges including DUI and eluding police, a felony, were filed on March 26, the Washington Post reports. After the affidavit was released Thursday, Senate President Ty Masterson said "severe consequences will be unavoidable" for his fellow Republican. (Read more Kansas stories.)

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