Kansas Speaker: After Aaron Coleman’s DUI, ‘unequivocally yes,’ he should step down

·3 min read

Well before 21-year-old Kansas state Rep. Aaron Coleman’s election a year ago, we expressed deep concern for his victims. In incident after incident since he took office in January, he’s shown that he’s become a danger both to himself and to others.

Now at last, House Speaker Ron Ryckman says leaders in Topeka will at least look at doing more.

“Do I think he should step down or be removed? Unequivocally yes,” Ryckman told us on Monday, adding the caveat that “legislators are elected to serve by the voters they represent. For the Legislature to intervene and reverse the voters’ decision is not something to be taken lightly.”

That’s hardly a concern in this case, and the time to act was yesterday, or the day before that.

This isn’t some political game, but a young man spinning out of control in plain view. Yet until now, Kansas House leaders have done nothing meaningful to intervene. They should have put down the popcorn and gotten him help already.

Coleman has admitted much, though not all of the bullying, threatening and even battering behavior that multiple girls and women have accused him of in the past. But it’s because his problems aren’t in the past that House leaders need to take some responsibility for the situation.

At what point does their inaction make them complicit in whatever he does next?

So far this year, he’s been banned from entering the Kansas Department of Labor and arrested after allegedly battering his brother and threatening to attack his grandfather. Early Saturday, he was arrested again, this time on a DUI charge.

Kansas state Rep. Aaron Coleman tweeted, “I have a lot of symptoms associated with PTSD.
Kansas state Rep. Aaron Coleman tweeted, “I have a lot of symptoms associated with PTSD.

In a Friday tweet, Coleman wrote, “I have a lot of symptoms associated with PTSD. No, it’s not curable. In fact, some people with PTSD can’t go in public.”

His suggestion that PTSD can’t be treated successfully isn’t true, but it is a serious health condition.

The only thing House leadership has done is send him a strongly worded memo. They couldn’t do more, they said, because his problems involved behavior that took place before he was in office. He was no sooner elected than he threatened Gov. Laura Kelly on social media, so that was never really true.

And after Coleman’s string of transgressions this year, his House colleagues can no longer hide behind that excuse.

Republicans, who have the majority in the House, may have enjoyed watching their Democratic colleagues squirm as they’ve been forced to abide Coleman’s embarrassing presence. It takes a two-thirds vote of the House to oust a member, and the GOP hasn’t been willing to be part of such an effort.

Wyandotte County voters own this, too: They ignored repeated warnings about Coleman’s past. Why? Because apparently, we’ll wait hours in line for a Texas hamburger but won’t take five minutes to look into what kind of person we’re hiring as our representative. If, that is, we even bother to show up at the polls.

But necessary as Coleman’s ouster is, even that wouldn’t solve the public safety risk that he poses. And right now, the top priority has got to be getting Coleman the treatment that even he seems to know he needs.

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