One of the more bizarre political scandals this year came to an end in somewhat dramatic fashion last night. Facing expulsion over an attempt to cover up an extramarital affair with a fellow Republican legislator by faking a blackmail attempt, Michigan state representative Todd Courser instead resigned on the floor of the legislature. His paramour, Rep. Cindy Gamrat, stuck around — but only a bit longer.
Before the resignation, though, Courser tried pleading with his colleagues to vote against expulsion. At one point, Courser tried to lead the chamber in prayer before the presider ruled him out of order:
In the end, Courser threw in the towel:
One of two socially conservative Michigan lawmakers embroiled in scandal over their extramarital affair and a cover-up attempt resigned early Friday morning rather than be expelled by his colleagues.
Republican Rep. Todd Courser announced his resignation, effective immediately, and was escorted out of the chamber. His decision came amid a marathon overnight session in the House over whether he and Rep. Cindy Gamrat should stay in their jobs. …
Sixty-seven members supported expelling him, six short of the two-thirds supermajority needed under the state constitution. More than two dozen minority Democrats abstained from voting and criticized the process.
Courser, 43, of Lapeer, has admitted sending an “outlandish” phony email to GOP activists and others in May claiming he was caught with a male prostitute. The email was intended to make his affair with the 42-year-old Gamrat appear less believable if it were exposed by an anonymous blackmailer who Courser said was demanding his resignation.
The self-smear email called Courser a “bi-sexual porn addicted sex deviant” and “gun toting Bible thumping … freak” and Gamrat a “tramp.”
Gamrat has said she discussed the plot with Courser but did not know the email’s sexually explicit content before it was sent.
Gamrat didn’t resign, so the legislature gave her the boot:
Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, embattled lawmakers accused of misconduct and misusing taxpayer resources to hide their extra-marital affair, are no longer representatives in the Michigan House.
Courser, R-Lapeer, resigned at 3:12 a.m. on Friday as the House prepared for a third vote on a resolution to expel him from office.
One hour later, the House voted 91-12 to expel Gamrat, R-Plainwell, making her just the fourth lawmaker ever to be removed from the Michigan Legislature by her peers.
Gamrat was immediately escorted from the chambers, and then the state Capitol, by House sergeants. She declined to speak with the media.
It took several votes to remove these two? Having an affair is one thing. Getting caught is another. But using their legislative resources to construct a fake blackmail scheme in hope of lessening the impact of getting caught is … just nuts, not to mention astoundingly stupid.Had the affair come to light, it certainly would have been embarrassing, and probably would have kept them from getting re-elected. (These days … who knows?) These two picked the very worst of all possible ways in dealing with the situation: by corrupting their offices in a bizarre cover-up that even Hollywood would consider too unbelievable to film. It may take a supermajority to expel a member (and for good reason), but how anyone could vote to keep someone in office after that stunt is incomprehensible.
We’ve heard “it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up” since Watergate, and it’s almost always wrong — it’s usually both the crime and the cover-up. In this case, though, the cliché applies.