Courser and Gamrat Are Household Names in Michigan — But Neither Has a House Seat Anymore After Sex Scandal
It’s getting harder these days to distinguish between reality TV stars and politicians — and we aren’t talking about presidential hopeful Donald Trump. The Michigan House of Representatives was full of drama just last week after a 14-hour session, two failed votes, and one sex scandal between two Tea Party Representatives resulting in a resignation and an expulsion from office.
That actually might even be more interesting than a Trump reality show, to be honest.
According to the Detroit Free Press and Associated Press, GOP Rep. Todd Courser resigned from his House seat early Friday morning a little after 3 a.m. Just an hour later, Republican Rep. Cindy Gamrat was expelled from her House seat in a 91-12 vote.
Courser, 43 and representing Lapeer, and Gamrat, 43 and representing Plainwell, had been caught in an extramarital affair. That would have been enough to put both of their careers in jeopardy, considering that they both campaigned for their respective seats on a platform of conservative Christian values.
Upon being found out, Courser apparently decided to fix the situation by making it even worse: he sent himself a fake email, pretending to be an anonymous blackmailer, and (falsely) accusing himself of trying to solicit a male prostitute for sex.
The Chicago Tribune reported that Courser called himself a “bi-sexual porn addicted sex deviant [and] gun toting Bible thumping… freak.” It appears that his creativity ran out when he discussed Gamrat, however, who was simply called a “tramp.”
The most reasonable explanation of Courser’s email is that he figured he could cover up the real affair with an even more dramatic, fake affair.
Except that Courser decided to talk about his fake blackmailing plan with a staffer, who happened to be recording the conversation. Courser asked the staffer to send out the email to Capitol officials, but the staffer refused and was fired.
The secret audio recording eventually made its way to the press — well after Courser had time to write scathing Facebook posts about his blackmailer and the vicious “Lansing mafia” conspiracy against him, and after he had filed a police report stating that he and Gamrat had both been receiving “threatening text messages.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, authorities stated that these texts were sent from a prepaid “burner” phone and they had already filed warrants to obtain records of the text messages from the network provider.
Allowing officials to break past the privacy settings of a personal phone or social media account is something intended to protect individuals from harm, and indeed would have been useful if a blackmailer had been attacking Courser and Gamrat. However, it wouldn’t necessarily save them from litigation, as this is still considered admissible evidence in court.
But after details of the scandal began leaking out, Michigan lawmakers decided that the two representatives had “obliterated the public trust,” to use the words of Rep. Ed McBroom, and the unhappy couple would have to go.
The approximate 90,000 residents in the former districts of Courser and Gamrat now have no elected representative until March 2016, when special elections will be held.