Rep. Gamrat: ‘Important to take responsibility’

State Rep. Cindy Gamrat speaks to 24 Hour News 8 in our studio on Sept. 8, 2015.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan Rep. Cindy Gamrat told 24 Hour News 8 on Tuesday afternoon that she thinks it’s important to claim responsibility for her actions and that she’s taking it “day by day” in the wake of a sex scandal involving another state lawmaker.

Earlier Tuesday in Lansing, the Republican from Plainwell addressed the members of a House committee and admitted that she misused public resources to cover up an extramarital affair with fellow freshman Republican Rep. Todd Courser of Lapeer. She asked that she be censured.

During a live interview on 24 Hour News 8 at 5 p.m., Gamrat said it was “very hard” to admit wrongdoing at the Tuesday hearing, but that she was “really thankful, honestly, to have that opportunity to address my colleagues.”

“Since this all started, there’s kind of been this whirlwind and this whirl of everything all around, and I have really tried to allow the process, the investigation and everything to go forward without interfering in that,” she said. “And this was a time I actually had a chance to address my colleagues and apologize to them.”

==Watch the entire live interview with Rep. Gamrat above.==

Gamrat said she regrets the impact the scandal has had on her family and her children.

“It has been very hard. It has been very difficult. But you know, sometimes it’s through the hard and difficult that you can learn a lot and become a better person and hope to do it better,” she said.

Despite urging to resign even from within their own party, both she and Courser have declined to do so. Gamrat told 24 Hour News 8 that she said she has heard from constituents who want her to resign but also from some who want her to remain in office.

“But I do think it’s really important to take responsibility for your actions and for the things that you’ve done, and I felt like I needed to do that,” she said, saying the Tuesday hearing allowed her to do so.

She said coffee hours scheduled Tuesday evening in Fennville — her first since the scandal broke — would allow her to address constituents’ concerns and needs.

“I think that there’s a lot of healing that needs to take place in my district,” she told 24 Hour News 8.

The meeting was packed, with constituents lining up out the door to meet with Gamrat. Many asked for her resignation, saying she was no longer effective.

“How many people feel that Cindy Gamrat should resign at this point in time?” one citizen asked, and some other attendees raised their hands. “And I think it’s time you listen to your constituents, go back to your family, heal the problems that you’ve created, and let the work of the legislature move forward.”

“It’s not easy to come here to listen, and I’m trying. I’m here tonight to listen to you guys and I’m trying,” a tearful Gamrat responded to critics.

The majority of the about 50 people at the meeting were upset with Gamrat, but a handful urged her to remain in office.

Gamrat told 24 Hour News 8 that she has already started the healing process, making phone calls and connecting with people.

“Being an effective legislator, there’s a lot of different parts to that. There’s the votes, there’s the legislation you put forward, and even this morning, at the West Chamber (of Michigan), I shared with my colleagues, a lady came up and said she thanked me for how my offices helped her daughter in an employment issue. And so there’s constituent concerns as well and connecting with the district,” she said. “I’m committed to redouble my efforts in those areas and do the best I can and benefit from the lessons I’ve learned.”

She said she hasn’t decided yet whether to run again, saying she’s taking it “day by day” and that there’s a lot of “healing” and “reconnecting” that needs to happen.

The top lawyer for the House has advised censure for Gamrat and expulsion for Courser, but it still remains to be seen what the House select committee formed to investigate their fitness for office will decide.

Gamrat told 24 Hour News 8 that she thinks the voters should have a voice in deciding what happens to Courser.

State Rep. Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, listens as House general counsel Brock Swartzle details Courser's misconduct during a legislative hearing, Tuesday, Sept 8, 2015, in Lansing, Mich.
(Courser listens during Tuesday’s legislative hearing.)

The pair’s relationship became public early last month after The Detroit News obtained a secret recording of Courser outlining a strange plan to send an email alleging he had sex with a male prostitute, which was not true. The lie seemed to be meant to mitigate the affair with Gamrat. Courser has said he sent the email to throw off blackmailers who were threatening to expose the affair if he didn’t resign. In late August, MLive found that the phone used to send those texts was purchased by someone using Courser’s name.

A subsequent investigation conducted by the House Business Office found that both representatives misused state resources, abused their offices and broke House rules in trying to hide the affair and for political advantage.

Courser is expected to testify before the House committee on Wednesday as hearings continue.

–24 Hour News 8’s Brian Sterling and Heather Walker contributed to this report.

**Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated there were about 50 supporters of Gamrat at the Tuesday evening meeting. There were actually about 50 people total at the meeting, a handful of whom supported Gamrat.

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