Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat: two elected Michigan representatives, each a relatively unknown officeholder until the salacious news broke last August that yet another pair of politicians have been ensnared with the opprobrious bulletin that instantly rockets any legislator into the beacon of public scrutiny – an adulterous sex affair.
According to Michigan Live on Feb. 26, Gamrat, 42, faces three felony charges of Misconduct in Office, which carries a max penalty of five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. Courser, 43, faces one charge of felony perjury, which carries a maximum of 15 years behind bars.
At the center of the affair is an email, designed to be a smokescreen for a bizarre cover-up fueled by alleged blackmail. Courser, who like Gamrat bases legislation on so-called Christian beliefs, copped to orchestrating a “false, sexually explicit email to Republicans and reporters in May claiming he was caught having sex with a male prostitute to deflect attention from the affair,” reports CBS News. The email claimed Courser was addicted to pornography and drugs and paid to have sex with a man outside a bar in Lansing.
Courser said the email was sent after he was blackmailed with anonymous text messages – which later turned out to be authored by Cindy Gamrat’s husband Joe Gamrat – sent to his Courser’s brother that commanded he resign or his affair would be exposed. Courser released screen shots of the May messages on his Facebook page. The text messages said the author has information “that can rattle Lansing to the core,” but says all will be “let off the hook” if Todd resigns.
Gamrat claimed to have no knowledge of the email sent by Courser in response to the blackmail, asserting to not have “authored” or “assisted” in sending the email, claiming she was unaware of it until pointed out to her by a reporter. She also spoke of the fact she shared staff with Courser – an unusual arrangement since they each represent opposite sides of the state – and the fact that some were given raises but then fired.
Ben Graham, a former aide to Todd Courser, exposed the relationship when he released audio recordings of Courser asking him to help send the bizarre email. Graham said Courser called the incriminating email a “controlled burn” designed to deflect any revelations that he was having an affair with Cindy Gamrat. Both Courser and Gamrat are married.
An investigation by the House Business Office found that the two representatives engaged in “deceptive, deceitful and outright dishonest conduct.” Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said the former lawmakers “have been offered the chance to turn themselves in to the Michigan State Police,” before they are arrested.
Adds MLive: “In September, following a series of hearings, the state House voted to expel Gamrat, moments after Courser had resigned to avoid the same fate, making her just the fourth state lawmaker ever kicked out of office by her peers.”
After the affair broke, a tearful Gamrat, flanked by her husband, two military veterans and a few members of her staff, said she holds the state legislature “in the highest regard, and it’s a tremendous privilege and honor to serve my district.” Gamrat apologized for the “negative attention this has brought,” and said that she and her husband have been “working through this together privately,” and admitted to seeking marriage counseling.
Cindy Gamrat: Michigan Rep. apologizes for sex scandal with fellow Rep. (VIDEO)
Sen. David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights, a former Marine, took exception on Twitter to Gamrat’s decision to have the veterans with her Friday. As did Democratic political consultant Joe DiSano, who labeled the move both “tasteless and unnecessary.”
“Classless move using veterans as props during your presser,” Knezek tweeted. “Comparing your indiscretions to combat service is an insult.”
“The egotism and lack of self-awareness on the parts of Gamrat and Courser is epic,” DiSano tweeted.