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Cotter calls for Courser-Gamrat investigation; others call for resignations

August 11, 2015

House Speaker Kevin COTTER Friday launched an internal investigation into revelations that Rep. Todd COURSER asked his staffer to send out a vulgar email designed to inoculate the House member against potential revelations of his extramarital affair with fellow Tea Party Rep. Cindy GAMRAT (R-Plainwell).

The potential violations of House rules captured in audio recordings between Courser and ex-staffer BenGRAHAM in The Detroit News was allegedly the first hard evidence the Cotter team had of wrongdoing. 

Tim BOWLIN, who leads the House Business Office, said this morning that his office would be looking to determine whether any laws or House policies were violated. 

“If a law was broken, we would have to elevate it,” Bowlin said, referring to the possibility of sending the situation to the Attorney General or a prosecutor. He declined to provide additional details, saying his office doesn’t speak about ongoing investigations.

MIRS has learned Graham and possibly other former staffers in the Courser/Garmat employ spoke with former Cotter Chief of Staff Norm SAARI about Courser’s request and other concerns about the House members’ conduct. The information on the recordings were not disclosed. 

Cotter Press Secretary Gideon D’ASSANDRO declined to share details about the conversation between House staff and Graham other than to say at least one meeting did take place. He did confirm the Detroit News recordings were the first time hard evidence of potential improper conduct involving Courser and Gamrat was made aware to the leadership. 

Meanwhile, Courser’s own member of Congress, U.S. Rep. Candice MILLER (R-Harrison Twp.), called on the House member to resign, saying the man who “never passes on an opportunity to preach about his supposed morals and his close relationship with God” has “proven to be completely unfit to represent the hardworking residents of Lapeer County. 

“Based on these revelations, under no circumstance can Todd Courser continue to represent the residents of Lapeer County, who are good, hard-working community and faith-based folks,” Miller wrote. “This behavior is a slap in their face, especially from someone who presents himself as a moralist. 

“I feel bad for all of the hard-working Tea Party activists who helped him become a representative and he rewarded them by saying that we need to, ‘inoculate the herd.'” 

Gov. Rick SNYDER’s Press Secretary Sara WURFEL said many facets of the allegations are certainly concerning, and the Governor believes the swift action by the Speaker to launch an investigation was appropriate. Michigan Republican Party Chair Ronna Romney McDANIEL shared similar statements about Cotter’s swift reaction to the initial Detroit News story, which broke a little before 1 a.m. this morning. Cotter’s statement appeared in the inboxes of media at 3:30 a.m. 

News of the Courser-Gamrat story quickly became a trending topic nationally on Facebook, appeared on the front page of Fox News and was covering in The Washington Post, CBS News, Slate, The Guardianand dozens of other news outlets throughout the state and country. 

For his part, Courser appeared to have been holed up in his Lapeer County office with the door locked all afternoon, a vehicle registered under his name parked near the back door. No one answered the door when MIRS knocked. 

Besides a group of journalists situated a few yards away from the back entrance hoping for a Courser sighting, the office saw little visible activity throughout the day. 

Gamrat and Courser did not return messages for comment from any news outlet or post any statements on Facebook. 

Once a frequent target of Courser’s lengthy emails against Republicans not whetted to a stringent conservative philosophy, former House Speaker Jase BOLGER said Cotter’s initial reaction and investigation is “very appropriate.” 

“These two jerks didn’t represent Republicans with their divisive mouths before; and they don’t represent Republicans with their hypocritical actions now,” he said. 

House Minority Leader Tim GREIMEL (D-Auburn Hills) was “deeply troubled” by the actions of the two House members. Press Secretary Katie CAREY said, “As serious as these revelations are, it’s still not clear if we have the facts. There may be more information to show the scope of what happened.” 

Progress Michigan Executive Director Lonnie SCOTT said, if true, using state resources to try to cover up an extramarital affair is a clear violation of the oath that they both took when sworn into office. Scott added he believes Cotter’s office should be included in an independent investigation since it’s not clear “what they knew” and “when they knew it.” 

“These elected officials clearly have no regard for the trust that is given to them by the voters in their communities, whom Courser callously referred to as ‘the herd,'” Scott said. “It’s time for Courser and Gamrat to own up to this deception and take responsibility for their actions, they should resign their respective seats immediately.” 

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