Recordings: MI GOP Tea Party State Reps Used Taxpayer Funds For Their Affair
Lansing — State Rep. Todd Courser planned the distribution of a fictional email alleging he had sex with a male prostitute in a bid to conceal his relationship with Rep. Cindy Gamrat, according to audio recordings obtained by The Detroit News.
Courser, a Lapeer Republican, said on one recording the email was designed to create “a complete smear campaign” of exaggerated, false claims about him and Gamrat so a public revelation about the legislators’ relationship would seem “mild by comparison.”
Interviews with former House employees and the recordings show freshman lawmakers Courser and Gamrat, R-Plainwell, used their taxpayer-funded offices to maintain and cover up their relationship. Courser, 43, and Gamrat, 42, rose from the ranks of tea party activism, battled establishment Republicans to win seats in the House last year and formed their own legislative coalition.
A now-former House aide recorded Courser in mid-May directing him to send Republican activists and operatives an email that would appear to be from an anonymous political enemy that said Courser had been “caught behind a Lansing nightclub” having sex with a man.
After House aide Ben Graham rejected Courser’s May 19 request to take a sick day on May 20 and send the mass email to Republicans across Michigan, he says he had duties removed in subsequent weeks. By early July, Courser fired Graham and Gamrat ended the employment of her aide, Keith Allard — about a month after giving them both pay raises — without explanation.
During the May 19 meeting, Courser instructed Graham to send rank-and-file Republicans across Michigan what he called “an over-the-top story that’s obscene about me.” It was designed, Courser said on the recording, to “inoculate the herd” — an apparent reference to Courser and Gamrat’s followers in the tea party movement.
More at Detroit News: Recordings: State Rep Asked Aide to Hide Relationship