Speaker: Evidence of misconduct from Courser, Gamrat

Left: Rep. Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, watches morning session of the Michigan House of Representatives from the gallery. Right: Rep. Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell, sits at her desk on the House floor while Republicans head into a closed-door meeting on road funding. (Aug. 18, 2015)

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — An investigation into state Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat has yielded “troubling evidence of misconduct,” the speaker of the House said Monday afternoon, but the details of that evidence are not yet being made public.

According to a statement from House Business Office Director Tim Bowlin, preliminary findings from his office’s investigation into the pair indicate “both misconduct and the misuse of taxpayer resources by both representatives.”

Bowlin presented the findings to a House committee on Monday and then Speaker of the House Kevin Cotter, with whom he met for about an hour and a half.

Courser and Gamrat, freshman Republicans from Lapeer and Plainwell respectively, are accused of using public resources to hide an extramarital affair and wrongly firing aides who refused to help with the cover-up.

Sources close to the case told 24 Hour News 8 on Sunday that criminal charges are being considered for both representatives, but statements from Bowlin and Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, did not mention that. However, in his afternoon statement, Cotter did indicate that he was looking into possible disciplinary action:

“I have received a draft report to review, and there is troubling evidence of misconduct. I am directing my legal counsel to review the preliminary findings for the purposes of any further disciplinary actions.”

The statement from Bowlin said that a report on the findings was being forwarded to outside counsel for review, which Bowlin said was typical practice “to protect the privacy and confidentiality of affected individuals and ensure compliance with Human Resources regulations.” He said the findings would be made public after the legal review was finished.

Gamrat released a statement late Monday afternoon saying she had not yet seen the findings of the investigation. She said she has “not ruled out any options” moving forward and is “still listening carefully to input from the people of the 80th district.”

Courser did not immediately make a statement.

News of Courser and Gamrat’s affair became public after The Detroit News obtained a secretly recorded conversation in which Courser asked an aide to send an email alleging the representative had hired a male prostitute, which was not true. The goal of the lie, it seemed, was to mitigate the affair with Gamrat. Courser later said he was trying to derail blackmailers who had threatened to expose the affair if he didn’t resign.

There are two main issues at hand in the investigation into the alleged misconduct: whether Courser and Gamrat had staff members lie on their behalf to help cover up the affair and whether they campaigned for elected office while on state property. The second issue is said to be of most concern.

Last week, the House voted to form a committee to investigate Courser and Gamrat’s fitness for office in the wake of the sex scandal. Both previously said they do not intend to resign.

The complete statement from Gamrat:

“I want to thank those who have supported and continue to support me. I have not yet seen the report by the House Business Office that was referenced in a public statement today.

“This job is a privilege and a duty – a duty to people. I owe it to the people in my life and in the 80th house district to review the report and study my options. I will talk it over with my family before making any decisions on what steps might be next. As of this time, I have not ruled out any options and I am still listening carefully to input from the people of the 80th district because they are, after all, who I serve in this position.

“We have a number of important issues that face this state and I continue to work every day to find a resolution that keeps working families at the forefront.”

Stay with 24 Hour News 8 for the latest on the story.

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