Kan. lawmaker skips meetings after robbery report

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- A freshman legislator from the Wichita area missed meetings Thursday after reporting that he was hit on the head and robbed while entering his room at a hotel that houses dozens of Kansas lawmakers, though questions remained about exactly what happened.

Rep. Joe Edwards, a Haysville Republican and 58-year-old pastor and evangelist, did not participate in the House's morning session and skipped afternoon committee meetings.

House Speaker Ray Merrick told The Associated Press that he visited Edwards at a Topeka hospital Thursday morning after the freshman legislator had spent the night. Merrick said Edwards was sitting in bed, alert enough for a 15-minute conversation and hoped to return to his legislative duties.

"I said, 'That's not necessary. Go home and get rested up,"' said Merrick, a Stilwell Republican.

Merrick and his aides said that Edwards made a brief stop at the Statehouse but then headed home. Edwards did not immediately return a telephone message left at his home seeking comment and he did not immediately reply to a message sent by AP to his personal email address.

A Topeka police spokeswoman did not immediately return telephone and email messages seeking additional information about the incident. Also, an official at the company that runs the Ramada Convention Center Downtown, where Edwards was staying, did not immediately return telephone messages Thursday.

Edwards told The Wichita Eagle (http://bit.ly/Uj3mgP ) that he went to his vehicle to retrieve some items Tuesday night after he finished watching the State of the Union address in his hotel room. He said someone "knocked me loony" after he put his key card in the exterior hotel room door.

He said he went to the hospital Wednesday and was diagnosed with a concussion.

Upon awaking around 1 a.m., Edwards said, he called hotel security. He said $260 in cash was missing from his wallet, although his credit cards remained.

The Ramada's security staff examined video footage and electronic key lock records. A security report said they show Edwards entered his room alone and that no assault occurred as he walked into the room.

However, Edwards told The Eagle that the security guard he talked to told him hotel video footage wouldn't cover his room's exterior door.

The guard said in the report that he asked Edwards if he would like him to call the police and make a report.

"He said quote, 'What good would that do? Besides I'm a legislator and don't need that,"' the report said.