GOP tirade against Democratic leader caps Kansas session

Kansas state Sen. Gene Suellentrop, left, R-Wichita, speaks with Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, right, outside her Statehouse office, as her security officer watches, Thursday, March 19, 2020, in Topeka, Kan. Kelly is practicing social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A marathon legislative session in Kansas ended early Friday with two Republican senators denouncing a Democratic leader who had accused them of racism over their treatment of the state's Hispanic labor secretary.

The dispute stems from an email Anthony Hensley sent on Wednesday accusing Sens. Gene Suellentrop and Rob Olson of berating Secretary of Labor Delia Garcia and her staff during a May 14 meeting about the unemployment system. The system had been under fire because of delays in processing claims related to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Senate President Susan Wagle also participated in this public partisan beat down," Hensley wrote. "I find it deeply disturbing that Wagle and her fellow white Republican male colleagues, particularly Senators Olson and Suellentrop, would engage in these vitriolic, unwarranted and implicit racist attacks against a distinguished Latina leader like Secretary Garcia.”

Suellentrop, of Wichita, asked to address the Senate after passage of the final bill, some 22 hours into the last day of the 2020 session, then began slamming Hensley, who is also white, The Wichita Eagle reported.

“I don’t know what it’s like to be called the N-word, I can’t even fathom that,” Suellentrop said. “You know what? I feel it’s pretty close to that, the vile, vulgar accusation of being a racist.”

He said both his sons are married to Latinas and he has two Hispanic grandchildren.

“In the businesses that I’ve owned, I would venture to say I’ve employed more minorities, people of color in the restaurant and hospitality industry, than he has taught in his class in the last 30 years," Suellentrop said referring to Hensley, who is a teacher. "He calls me a racist — a foul, vulgar, repugnant statement.”

Olson, of Olathe, followed with his own fiery speech in which he said he too has minority family and friends. He said Hensley should be disciplined by the Senate for the email.

“I can’t believe that someone could put something like this in writing and slander other members,” Olson said.

Hensley, of Topeka, sat silently through the criticism and left shortly after the session ended.

For copyright information, check with the distributor of this item, The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle.

(7) comments


Kind of like what happened in the US house of representatives with one difference they don’t even include the other side they just do what they want.


Taken from elsewhere:

“The bill didn't exist until 4 AM this morning, and at 5 AM Republicans in the Senate couldn't definitively answer questions about what the bill did or how it worked.

But at around 6am this morning, Republican Senators voted for the bill anyway. It then went to the House & Republicans voted for the bill there as well.

To pass the bill, Republican leaders suspended rules to deny debate & kicked Democrats off of committees to silence their voices. They effectively held legislators hostage for 24 hours while they shoved through this monstrous bill.

The bill would change nearly 50 years of Kansas law to strip Governor Kelly of the emergency powers necessary to manage the pandemic in Kansas. Governor Kelly has been widely recognized for the fantastic job she's done managing the crisis - 2/3 of Kansans support her efforts & even Donald Trump & Pat Roberts have praised her.

All of this was a dangerous political game by Susan Wagle & her allies to appease an ultraconservative base in an election year.

We hope Governor Kelly vetoes this dangerous and undemocratic legislation.”

This bill almost certainly be vetoed, and since it's the final day of the session, unless they call an emergency session, the veto will stand.


Agree with Aim High that Governor Kelly will veto this bill. She will also demand to have more power (absolute power), so that no one can question her.


I hope she giggles about their wasted 20+ hour day too when she vetoes it too. The Republicans trying to get bills passed that weren't even done being written should be 100% illegal.

Republicans have been calling Kelly a dictator and tyrannical, but them bulldozing through sine die like this with zero regard for decorum, health and safety, and the legislative process shows their true colors.


Hensley you’re stuck his foot in his mouth. The governor and the secretary of labor have both failed the unemployed Kansans who lost their job because of this virus, and still have yet to receive some of the unemployed paychecks yet. I Have a son who manage the restaurant in Kansas City and was furloughed, and as of yet received only half of what he should be getting on unemployment.


"Stupid Democrats why is it taking so long to get me my handouts?!"


Did not know you were having troubles with the Democrats in Colorado

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