House lawyer urges 1 expulsion, 1 censure in affair cover-up

By David Eggert
Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The top lawyer for the Michigan House recommended Tuesday that one state lawmaker be expelled and another censured for misconduct stemming from an attempt to hide their extramarital affair.

Brock Swartzle, general counsel for the Republican-led chamber and chief of staff to Speaker Kevin Cotter, said Rep. Todd Courser of Lapeer should be expelled. He said a censure would be appropriate for Rep. Cindy Gamrat of Plainwell, who on Tuesday admitted to misusing public resources and asked for a censure.

"Under any standard of appropriate behavior, Rep. Courser has failed in miserable and spectacular fashion," Swartzle said.

A special six-member House committee is investigating whether to recommend that the House reprimand, censure or expel the Republican legislators.

Courser, 43, and Gamrat, 42, have refused calls to resign.

Courser has admitted that he arranged for a phony email to be sent to Republican activists and others that said he had been caught having sex with a male prostitute. He said the tale would make the affair less believable in case it was exposed by an anonymous blackmailer who was sending him and Gamrat text messages demanding that he resign or their relationship would be exposed. The self-smear email - which an investigator read for the committee - called Courser a "bi-sexual porn addicted sex deviant" and "gun toting Bible thumping ... freak."

After an aide to Courser and Gamrat was fired in July, he gave The Detroit News a secret audio recording of Courser demanding that he send the email to "inoculate the herd," an apparent reference to Courser's supporters. While the aide refused and the email was likely legal, the plot was unethical and showed a "callous lack of respect" to the public, according to the investigation. It also said Gamrat was aware of the email contrary to her assertions.

Gamrat, who read a nine-minute statement to the panel apologizing and - in a change in course - acknowledging that she knew of the email, was scheduled to meet with constituents Tuesday evening for the first time since the scandal broke.

Published: Wed, Sep 09, 2015