Why would the Kansas Legislature punish a bully when it does nothing to its criminals?

·2 min read

So, the Kansas Department of Labor has banned state Rep. Aaron Coleman for alleged abusive behavior there, and threatened him with trespassing charges if he returns?

So what? Nothing substantial ever happens to Kansas legislators who violate the law.

State Sen. Gene Suellentrop of Wichita, once the powerful Senate majority leader, received but two days in jail and probation for having driven impaired and at excessive speeds on the wrong side of Interstate 70 in downtown Topeka last March — attempting to elude and intimidate police in the process.

After all that, he’s still a senator. Who does what he did and keeps his job, particularly in a privileged position of trust? Those who make laws ought not break them. Except if you’re a lawmaker in Kansas, apparently.

Not to be outdone, in April state Rep. Mark Samsel, Republican of Wellsville, kicked a student in the groin while substitute teaching and otherwise behaving as if deranged in class. His punishment? Probation, two letters of apology and a ban from social media.

That’ll teach him?

Likewise, when will Coleman learn? His stark admissions of bullying, revenge porn and blackmail of girls in school, made even before his election to the Kansas House, and his bizarre tweet of a “hit” on Gov. Laura Kelly resulted in a mere strongly worded letter from his Kansas House colleagues.

Based on the wet-noodle-lash approach that Kansas legislators take toward even criminal behavior in their midst, we’re confident nothing will come of Coleman’s newest affront — even if he violates the KDOL ban and is cited for trespassing. The ban comes after the department says an “agitated” Coleman repeatedly tried using a disability access button to get into an employee-only entrance there on Sept. 30 and berated and tried to slip by a security officer.

We appreciate KDOL’s own strongly worded letter, but will Coleman? Or will he just put it in his legislative scrapbook with the other one?

Coleman’s anemic explanation for yet more bullying behavior is that he was trying to get into the department to advocate for constituents waiting on unemployment benefits. But he could’ve advocated for constituents in his own strongly worded letter — or by holding a press conference or protest outside the office.

There was absolutely no reason to take the tack that he did, except that he’s Aaron Coleman and, well, that’s what he does.

Yet, given the Kansas Legislature’s disgraceful record of abiding law-breaking by its members, there appears to be no reason for him to stop, either.

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