Tea Party Republican Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat,, embattled lawmakers accused of misconduct and misusing taxpayer resources to hide their extra-marital affair, are no longer representatives in the Michigan House.
Courser, R-Lapeer, resigned at 3:12 a.m. on Friday as the House prepared for a third vote on a resolution to expel him from office.
One hour later, the House voted 91-12 to expel Gamrat, R-Plainwell, making her just the fourth lawmaker ever to be removed from the Michigan Legislature by her peers.
Despite the evidence against them, expulsion votes did not come easy. Removing an elected representative from office, a rare action, requires a 2/3 supermajority.
The resignation and expulsion capped a spectacular fall for Courser and Gamrat, who won election last year behind a wave of tea party support and a socially conservative platform, including a defense of traditional marriage.
Courser and Gamrat began their legislative tenure in audacious fashion, releasing a 10-part “contract for liberty” that they called “the beginning of a roadmap to restore our founder’s intent for the proper role of government.”
Rumors of an affair between Courser and Gamrat had swirled around Lansing for months, but in the end, it was the cover-up that did them in.
Courser, as heard on a secret recording made by a staffer he would later fire, plotted a bizarre and fictitious email designed to discredit any real revelation of his affair, calling it “a controlled burn” to “inoculate the herd.”
The salacious missive, which he sent to hundreds of people on his email list, accused Courser of sleeping with a male prostitute and doing drugs. It called Gamrat “a tramp, a lie and a laugh” who was complicit in his behavior.
Courser, in sworn testimony before the special committee that had been tasked with considering his fitness to remain in office, admitted sending the “baffling and mind-boggling” email but said he was under intense pressure due to anonymous text messages from someone threatening to expose the affair.
Gamrat, in a public apology last month, said she “did not author or assist” in sending the email. In an interview with the House Business Office, she also “unconditionally stated” that she did not know about the email before it was sent.
However, in her own sworn testimony on Tuesday, Gamrat acknowledged that she had discussed the email concept with Courser before it was sent and was generally aware of the strategy.
She accepted other key findings of the House investigation, a decision she appeared to walk back on Thursday afternoon, telling reporters she had signed a written statement with the understanding that she would be censured, rather than expelled, if she did so.
Jonathan Oosting, “Todd Courser resigns, Cindy Gamrat expelled from Michigan House in wake of sex scandal”, MLive, September 11, 2015.
Todd Courser, Cindy Gamrat: How a sex scandal turned into 6 felony charges, MLive, February 27, 2016.
Melody Baetens, “‘20/20’ digs into Michigan political scandal”, The Detroit News, January 21, 2016
Emily Lawler, “Deaths, drugs and skullduggery: A brief history of Michigan political scandals“, MLive, August 21, 2015; Updated August 24, 2015.