KS lawmaker ranting about suicide needs an intervention, before this ends in tragedy
We urgently need a team trained in crisis intervention — unarmed, please — at the Kansas State Capitol on Monday. Because Rep. Mark Samsel, who was charged with battery after allegedly behaving abusively and raving nonsensically about God, Satan, lesbians and suicide in a Wellsville classroom last week, is melting down in plain sight.
This is neither funny nor in any way political. So yes, Samsel has got to resign, both as a GOP lawmaker and a substitute teacher. But instead of focusing on the partisan or even legal implications right now, what this man needs is medical care, stat.
Democratic Sen. Cindy Holscher, who served with Samsel in the House, said, “the things he’s been saying and doing are not representative of him,” a moderate Republican and even-tempered guy. “This is a break from reality, and I hope he’s getting help.”
After she texted him to that effect, she said, he answered her by saying news accounts were untrue. “He said, ‘The truth will come out soon,’ and then a cross emoji.”
After the story of his scary, unwell rant made news in The Star and then nationally, Samsel said that this was a planned stunt that most of the students were in on. No and no. It was supposed to send a message, though no one knew what message that might be.
Now Samsel has posted a complete ramble on Facebook in response to the story about it in the Anderson County Review, a weekly newspaper run by the local GOP chairman. A chairman who himself made international news last summer when he posted a cartoon on the paper’s Facebook page likening Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s order requiring people to wear masks in public to the roundup and murder of millions of Jews during the Holocaust.
Here’s just a sliver of Samsel’s latest post: “WAKE UP, FOLKS! How can I make it any more clear? Do you know how THE DEVIL does his bidding? NOT HORNS.
“HATE. In a suit. Using deceit, lies, blasphemy. YOU KNOW, THE ANDERSON COUNTY REVIEW. Opinion section. Then disguises it by using YOUR children, God’s children, to create a truly beautiful sports, FFA, band, etc. section. Using OUR kids to spread hate and fear and division. Yes, I AM angry. Enough is enough…
“Ask THE KIDS. The TEACHERS. The COACHES. THEY KNOW. Who bought them pizza, hamburgers, cookies? YOU already KNOW. Then who gets crucified by the EXTREME RIGHT saying ungodly things about me and attacking my motives. WWJD much? Two-faced much?”
As in class, he went on and on from there. But we should not go on and on, pretending that this is just another felonious bigmouth who doesn’t deserve to serve.
He is the third Kansas lawmaker that we know of who ought to have gotten serious help this year.
Samsel’s fellow Republican, former Senate Majority Leader Gene Suellentrop, is still serving in Topeka, after being charged with DUI and driving 90 mph the wrong way on Interstate 70. Barely able to stand when he was finally stopped, according to court documents, he blew more than twice the legal limit, called the arresting officer “donut boy” and bragged that as a former high school athlete, he could “take” the officer in a fight.
Yet even after his arrest, he was still acting as majority leader behind the scenes. His friends and allies mentioned thoughts and prayers instead of treatment and more treatment. It was only after the “donut boy” comment came out that he was removed from leadership.
Then there’s freshman Democratic Kansas Rep. Aaron Coleman of Kansas City, Kansas, whose acknowledged recent history of intimate partner violence should also have led to both legal consequences and a therapeutic intervention.
Instead, he got neither. He was elected anyway, and since his November election tweeted about a “hit” on his fellow Democrat, Gov. Kelly. Republican Rep. John Barker, who chaired the House committee investigating Coleman, declined to let even one of Coleman’s victims testify at the mini-hearing on this matter. Barker said the committee shouldn’t look at any behavior before Coleman or any other member was in office, though it doesn’t have to be that way.
House Democrats wanted it spelled out in the letter of reprimand Coleman got that he had to get some counseling, but even that was dropped from the weak final product.
Each of these cases could have led to loss of life, and still could, frankly. It’s time for leaders in the Kansas statehouse to recognize reality, and address it far more bravely than they have so far.