Kansas House Democrat arrested again, triggering new calls for resignation
Kansas state Rep. Aaron Coleman, a Democrat from Wyandotte County, was arrested for the second time in less than one month. Gov. Laura Kelly and the House’s top Democrat demand that he resign from Legislature. (Noah Taborda/Kansas Reflector)

Democratic Rep. Aaron Coleman’s second arrest in less than one month prompted calls Sunday night for his immediate resignation from office by the governor of Kansas and the top Democratic and Republican leaders of the Kansas House.

Coleman, serving his first year in the House representing a district in Kansas City, Kan., was arrested Saturday in Douglas County on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. In late October, he was arrested in a misdemeanor domestic battery incident involving a sibling in Johnson County.

Before taking office in January, a handful of House Democrats insisted that he not be seated given reports of past violent and threatening relationships with women.

Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat who served in the Kansas Senate, said Coleman’s latest encounter with law enforcement provided additional evidence of his lack of fitness to be part of the Legislature.

“His continued presence in the Legislature is a disservice to his constituents,” Kelly said. “He should resign immediately and seek the treatment that he needs. If he does not resign, the Legislature should use its process to remove him from office.”

House Speaker Ron Ryckman, R-Olathe, and House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer, D-Wichita, said Coleman should resign because he was a detriment to himself and the voters who elected him.

“I want to reiterate what I have said in the past: It is clear Representative Coleman is in dire need of help,” Sawyer said. “For the sake of the state of Kansas, his constituents, and himself, he should resign and concentrate on getting the help he badly needs,” Sawyer said.

Sawyer said the Legislature was “not a healthy environment for someone in this mental state.” In the domestic violence case, a judge ordered Coleman to undergo a mental evaluation.

On social media, Coleman recently challenged the notion that his conduct required resignation from the Kansas House. He made reference to Rep. Vic Miller, a Topeka Democrat who accepted a diversion agreement in July 2020 for driving under the influence.

“Vic Miller. DUI while in office? Very intriguing,” Coleman posted.

Coleman went on to ask Sawyer why there was no public campaign to run Miller out of the Legislature. Miller had been involved in a one-vehicle crash on I-70 in Topeka.

In addition to pending legal troubles, Coleman was instructed earlier this month not to visit office of the Kansas Department of Labor . He was accused of attempting to improperly enter the agency’s office through an employee entrance. He asserted he was there at the behest of constituents regarding unemployment benefit claims.

In August 2020, Coleman defeated seven-term incumbent Democratic state Rep. Stan Frownfelter, losing to the teenager by 14 votes. Coleman won the general election race. Following the November 2020 election, seven Democratic legislators urged him to resign. An official Kansas House inquiry into complaints about Coleman produced a reprimand.

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