The Michigan Statehouse, Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Lansing, Mich. 
Carlos Osorio/AP Photo

In Michigan sex scandal, ‘there are criminal allegations involved’

Following up on a report from two weeks ago, Michigan’s legislature has completed a preliminary investigation into two Republican lawmakers’ sex scandal, and so far, the findings paint an unflattering picture. MLive Media reported yesterday afternoon:
Michigan state Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat misused taxpayer resources in an attempt to hide their extra-marital affair, according to preliminary findings from a House Business Office probe.
“After completing the investigation, we have preliminary findings of both misconduct and the misuse of taxpayer resources by both representatives,” Director Tim Bowlin said in a Monday afternoon statement.
The full report has not yet been released to the public. Rather, the findings have been sent to outside counsel for “an independent review.”
State House Speaker Kevin Cotter (R), who ordered the investigation two weeks ago, said “further disciplinary actions” may be necessary. State House Minority Leader Tim Greimel (D), who wants the office of the state Attorney General to get involved, added, “There are criminal allegations involved here.”
If you missed our earlier coverage, as sex scandals go, this one’s a doozy. Two right-wing state representatives, Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, had an extra-marital affair, which would itself be noteworthy since Courser and Gamrat are “among the most vocal opponents of gay rights and defenders of ‘traditional marriage’ in the state legislature.”
But as the Detroit News reported in early August, the real trouble came when these two allegedly “used their taxpayer-funded offices to maintain and cover up their relationship.”
As we discussed, Todd Courser is accused of pressing an aide to leak a rumor – making it seem as if it had come from one of his enemies – telling state GOP activists that Courser had been “caught behind a Lansing nightclub” having sex with a man.
The scheme, apparently, was based on the idea that the leak of a bogus claim would become a distraction for a while, but once it was discredited, it would be harder to then accuse Courser of his actual extra-marital affair. As Courser put it, the plan was designed to “inoculate the herd.”
But when his aide didn’t want to participate in the scheme, the staffer was demoted and soon after fired without explanation.
Courser is a married father of four; Gamrat is a married mother of three. The Detroit News added that the two Tea Party lawmakers “often invoke their Christian faith in pursuit of new legislation governing gun rights, abortion and marriage.”
Courser has acknowledged the adulterous affair, but has argued there’s some kind of conspiracy involving blackmail and an anonymous figure sending text messages.
As for the road ahead, the MLive report added that the investigation’s findings “are expected to inform the work of a new special House committee that has been formed to consider whether Courser and Gamrat are fit to remain in office.”
Both have vowed not to resign. Expulsion would require a two-thirds vote in the Republican-led chamber.