House Democrats file complaint seeking investigation, sanction of state Rep. Coleman

Alleged DUI on I-70 in Douglas County second arrest in less than one month

By: - November 29, 2021 11:34 am
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)

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)

TOPEKA — Six Democratic state representatives filed a formal complaint Monday to initiate a special Kansas House investigation of the back-to-back arrests of state Rep. Aaron Coleman for allegedly driving under the influence and in relation to a domestic dispute.

The lawmakers’ complaint came on heels of recommendations Sunday from Gov. Laura Kelly, House Speaker Ron Ryckman and House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer for the resignation of Coleman, a first-term Democrat from Kansas City, Kansas.

Democratic Reps. Stephanie Byers of Wichita, Linda Featherston of Overland Park, Christina Haswood of Lawrence, Jo Ella Hoye of Lenexa, Mari-Lynn Poskin of Leawood and Lindsay Vaughn of Overland Park proposed an inquiry by the House that could lead to Coleman’s expulsion.

The coalition triggered a similar legislative review in 2021 that was tied to Coleman’s threat against the governor and previous physical abuse of females. It concluded with the House admonishing Coleman.

“We believe that there is reasonable evidence of noncompliance with a previous warning and admonishment from the House Select Investigating Committee that was issued after a longstanding pattern of physically and emotionally abusive harassment, violence, bullying and stalking was documented,” the six complaining representatives said. “This behavior puts state employees, legislators and visitors to the Capitol at risk and makes it unsafe for him to serve in the Kansas House.”

Coleman 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.

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 state government.

“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.”

Ryckman, an Olathe Republican, and Sawyer, a Democrat from 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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Tim Carpenter
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.