Democrat blasts Kansas representative for casting votes days after ‘unbecoming’ altercation

A Kansas Democratic legislator called into question Rep. Mark Samsel's decision to cast votes to overturn vetoes days after being charged with battery. The Wellsville Republican was arrested following a wild rant and an alleged physical altercation with a student in a class he was substitute teaching. (Noah Taborda/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — A member of the Kansas House is calling on Rep. Mark Samsel, charged with misdemeanor battery for a physical altercation with a Wellsville student, to resign for behavior unsuitable for a state lawmaker.

Samsel, a Republican from Wellsville, was arrested Thursday and released on bond after the altercation with a student while substitute teaching. In recordings, he can be heard ranting about God, masturbation and teen suicide to the class.

The battery charge stemmed from an allegation Samsel grabbed a male student and hit a student in the groin.

Rep. Stephanie Clayton, an Overland Park Democrat, said the behavior shown by Samsel has no place among those making major decisions on behalf of Kansans. The Wellsville legislator was in attendance Monday to join Republicans in narrow overrides of Gov. Laura Kelly’s vetoes.

“His conduct was unbecoming to this Legislature and his district,” Clayton said. “I’m disappointed he harmed children and then came to work and took votes that hurt Kansas.”

Samsel, with the assistance of Rep. Nick Hoheisel, R-Wichita, avoided confrontation with news reporters who tried to reach him for comment on the House floor.

The Wellsville Police Department and Franklin County Sheriff’s Office launched an investigation after receiving a report of Samsel’s alleged conduct Wednesday from school district administrators. Samsel subsequently appeared Saturday on TV to defend himself — where he claimed the entire incident was staged — and also posted a rambling Facebook statement Sunday.

On one recording, Samsel, an attorney and high school sports official, can be heard warning students of his growing anger and that he is about to unleash the wrath of God upon them. He continues, asking the class if they would believe God has been speaking directly to him.

Samsel also was recorded telling students they had permission to kick a male student in the groin. In addition, Samsel recounted a personal story of a student who attempted suicide because both of the student’s parents were women.

Wellsville school district superintendent Ryan Bradbury has since announced Samsel will no longer be allowed to work in the district, prompting Samsel’s response on Facebook.

“What happened in Wellsville on Wednesday? Only God knows. I have my version. You have yours,” Samsel said in the now-deleted post.

“So how do we find the Truth? It’s probably not by listening to the yellers and the screamers, is it?” he wrote. “Yet look how quickly they get headline news today. They come after everyone. Our educators, our law enforcement, our doctors and frontline workers, our judges and court personnel. They attack Christianity while calling for God to be removed from the classroom and canceled or erased from American history and modern society.”

Samsel went on to talk about the U.S. Capitol riot and mental health issues among American high schoolers before brushing off criticism from “the haters.”

No formal complaint has been filed against Samsel in the House.

In a statement from Republican leadership, House Speaker Ron Ryckman said no immediate action would be taken while the investigation is conducted.

“We’re concerned first and foremost about the safety of the students involved in this case,” Ryckman said. “The next step is to let law enforcement do its work. Once they’ve gotten to the bottom of things, we have a publicly open process in place for addressing the conduct of any legislator.”

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Noah Taborda
Noah Taborda started his journalism career in public radio at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri, covering local government and producing an episode of the podcast Show Me The State while earning his bachelor’s degree in radio broadcasting at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Noah then made a short move to Kansas City, Missouri, to work at KCUR as an intern on the talk show Central Standard and then in the newsroom, reporting on daily news and feature stories.
Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.