Cotter: ‘Very possible’ Courser-Gamrat committee will meet next week
September 1, 2015
It’s “very possible” that the special committee to investigate Reps. Todd COURSER (R-Lapeer) and Cindy GAMRAT (R-Plainwell) will hold its first meeting next week, Speaker Kevin COTTER (R-Mt. Pleasant) said Thursday.
According to multiple legislative sources, House leadership is moving forward with planning for the committee, including considering member selection and exploring a first meeting date.
As of now, there’s an expectation among some House members that a meeting will take place next week, according to sources.
However, Gideon D’ASSANDRO, spokesperson for Cotter, said no final decisions have been made on how to proceed regarding Courser and Gamrat just yet.
While Democrats have turned in their preferences for their two spots on the committee, D’Assandro said House GOP leadership is still in the process of picking the members who will serve on the panel.
Likewise, Cotter wouldn’t confirm that the committee will meet next week.
“There’s been nothing noticed to this point,” Cotter said of the required public notices for committee meetings. But of the possibility of a meeting taking place next week, Cotter added, “But it is a real option.”
On Monday, House Business Office Director Tim BOWLIN presented Cotter with the findings of his inquiry into Courser and Gamrat, who’ve been accused of using taxpayer resources to try to cover up an extramarital affair and for other personal matters.
So far, Bowlin’s report hasn’t been made public. But according to a statement from Bowlin on Monday, he found evidence of misconduct and misuse of taxpayer resources by both Courser and Gamrat.
Outside legal counsel is currently reviewing the report on behalf of House leadership, and it’s expected that a summary and some relevant documents will be released at some point in the near future.
The report will likely be used as the jumping-off point for the special committee that the House formed last week to study the qualifications of Courser and Gamrat.
According to the resolution that formed the committee, HR 129, the six-member committee will determine Courser and Gamrat’s fitness to continue holding “the high office to which they were elected.”
The committee, which will feature four Republicans and two Democrats, will also make a recommendation to the full House on how to proceed regarding the two lawmakers. The panel could recommend expulsion, as some lawmakers have already suggested as an outcome.
As far as the committee’s meeting schedule, Cotter said today that he’s keeping the option of a meeting next week open.
“There are a lot of moving parts there that we’re working through, making sure that we’re being diligent and thoughtful about all of those moving parts,” Cotter said, after a closed-door meeting with other legislative leaders on roads this morning.
House GOP leadership will have to weigh the political repercussions of putting various members on the committee and may have to consider public statements members have made about Courser and Gamrat already.
Some members have already called on them to resign while others have already said they believe there’s enough evidence to expel them.
According to conversations with members, there are many Republicans interested in serving on the special committee, which could further complicate the selection process.
Gamrat, PR Firm Part Ways
As for Gamrat, she lost her public relations firm this morning.
Near Perfect Media, which had working with Gamrat, has now severed ties with her.
Justin NEAR, of Near Perfect Media, said he no longer felt like he could manage the flow of information.
The decision came the same day MIRS obtained the report of a private investigator hired by Gamrat’s attorney, Andrew ABOOD, which came back with a name connected to a cell phone from which “blackmailing” texts were being sent to the lawmakers.
The name on that report ended up being different than the name MIRS received back from the same nationwide brokerage firm Abood’s PI had used, signaling that the mysterious text message was hiding his or her true identity.