May 26, 2022

Lawmaker Arrested on Domestic Violence Charge

A Kansas lawmaker has been arrested on a domestic violence charge. The Wichita Eagle reports that Rep. Michael O’Donnell faces one count of aggravated battery against his wife and three children following an altercation at their home in Wichita, Kansas. Court records show he also is accused of threatening to kill the family and himself with a handgun if they called 911 or left the house.

The incident comes just weeks after another state legislator was sentenced to jail time for abusing his son during a custody battle with his ex-wife. O’Donnell’s arrest affidavit says the lawmaker pushed his wife and put her in a headlock when she tried to get away from him. He allegedly grabbed a gun and threatened to shoot the family before they managed to escape. The couple has three children together, ages 5, 9 and 10. O’Donnell was elected in November 2012 at age 21, making him the youngest member of the Kansas Legislature. His mother, state Rep. Peggy Mast, R-Emporia, was elected at 19 and is now House Majority Leader.

O’Donnell was released on $5,000 bond Friday afternoon. He will be arraigned Monday in Sedgwick County District Court before District Judge Jeff Syrios. O’Donnell said in a statement to The Associated Press that he would not comment until the case has been resolved.

O’Donnell, an outspoken conservative who opposes abortion and gay marriage, was endorsed by outgoing U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt this fall after Tiahrt dropped out of the 4th District congressional race to run for the U.S. Senate. O’Donnell, a Republican from Wichita, defeated Democratic challenger Cynthia Lummis in the general election with 61 percent of the vote.

In an interview with The Associated Press during his campaign last year, O’Donnell said he got into politics because he was tired of parental rights and Second Amendment rights not being treated the same as other constitutional rights. He has sponsored a resolution to urge Congress and Kansas legislators to pass laws guaranteeing full protection under the Second Amendment.

O’Donnell’s arrest comes five weeks after another state lawmaker, Rep. Virgil Peck, apologized for making a joke about shooting immigrants from helicopters after an uproar over Arizona passing tougher immigration laws. Peck later apologized again.

Peck, a Republican from southwest Kansas, was widely condemned including by fellow legislators for saying at a public forum that if he called on the federal government to send helicopters over his district to round up immigrants, I don’t want to be called a racist. The state Democratic Party demanded his resignation and so did the state’s only Hispanic lawmaker, Rep. Valdenia Winn, D-Kansas City.

A Wichita police report says a 911 caller reported around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday that a male had his hands around a female’s neck and she was being assaulted.” Officers arrived at the home, where they found O’Donnell’s wife of more than a year with a small scratch on her neck and no visible injuries after she fled to a neighbor’s home.

O’Donnell’s wife told police the couple had been drinking wine before they went to an Applebee’s restaurant, where O’Donnell became upset about something that happened at work during his legislative session in Topeka.