Courser sues for House seat, $10M in damages; Gamrat also suing

Todd Corser, Cindy Gamrat
LEFT: Former state representative Todd Courser in 65th District Court on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 in Lansing, Mich. RIGHT: Former state representative Cindy Gamrat in 65th District Court on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 in Lansing, Mich. (Dale G. Young/The Detroit News via AP)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Two Michigan lawmakers mired in a sex scandal are suing dozens of people involved in the investigation that led to their resignation and ousting.

Todd Courser of Lapeer and Cindy Gamrat of Plainwell both filed federal lawsuits Thursday.

Courser resigned from the House and Gamrat was expelled last year after an investigation found they had committed misconduct in covering up an extramarital affair. He now also faces criminal charges in connection to the scandal.

Gamrat, who represented Allegan County’s 80th District, is seeking more than $25,000 in attorney fees and other damages.  She named representatives Edward McBroom, Kurt Heise, Andrea LaFontaine, Rob VerHeulen, Tim L. Bowlin and the Michigan House of Representatives in her case, claiming the process they used in their investigation violated her rights.

>>PDF: Lawsuit filed by Cindy Gamrat

In the 10-page filing, Gamrat said releasing the House investigation to the public was defamatory; she also identified sections of the investigation she said are false.

Courser filed a much larger 182-page lawsuit against several state officials, former aides, state police and a major Michigan newspaper, claiming violations of his constitutional rights during the investigation that led to his House resignation and demanding in excess of $10 million in damages.

Courser is also asking for a court order to reseat him in the House “or provide an alternative and equitable remedy,” and a court order clearing any record the House may have of him committing misconduct in office and misusing state resources.

Courser names 26 defendants, including:

  • Three former aides, including two who are suing Courser and the House for wrongful termination;
  • Cindy Gamrat’s husband; The House of Representatives; Speaker of the House Kevin Cotter;
  • The House Business Office director who headed up the investigation into Courser and Gamrat;
  •  Radisson Hotels; State representatives who sat on the special committee that looked into Courser and Gamrat’s fitness for office, including West Michigan’s Rob VerHeulen;
  • The Detroit News, which initially broke the news of the affair, and a Detroit News reporter;
  • Michigan State Police and three of its detectives;
  • And Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.

Courser said all the defendants “acted maliciously, recklessly intentionally or by reason of gross negligence or violation of the law.”

>>PDF: Lawsuit filed by Todd Courser

The lawsuit reiterates claims Courser has made all along — that he was forced out of the House illegally as part of a political conspiracy by House Republicans who disliked his stances. As evidence, he cited cases of other representatives who were charged with crimes and not expelled from the House.

The suit alleges Radisson Hotels employees were complicit in illicit surveillance of Courser and giving out information about his and Gamrat’s stays there.

In this Jan. 14, 2015 file photo, Rep. Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell, and Rep Todd Courser, R-Lapeer wave to reporters in the House of Representatives in Lansing, Mich. (Dale G. Young /Detroit News via AP)
In this Jan. 14, 2015 file photo, Rep. Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell, and Rep Todd Courser, R-Lapeer wave to reporters in the House of Representatives in Lansing, Mich. (Dale G. Young /Detroit News via AP)

It says articles published by The Detroit News, including the one that broke the story of the affair and Courser’s bizarre plan to cover it up by sending out an email falsely stating he had a sexual liaison with a male prostitute, and the findings of the House Business Office investigation into Courser and Gamrat reported false and misleading information as fact.

The suit claims hearings of a special House committee to investigate his fitness denied him and Gamrat due process and that the criminal charges against him were filed to cover up the conspiracy against him.

All of this, the suit claims, constituted a violation of Courser’s constitutional and civil rights to due process, equal protection, protection against double jeopardy, protection against unlawful search and seizure, and deprived him of his salary, among other things.

In the court filing, Courser said he may add more names to the lawsuit “as they become known through discovery.”

Courser ran in last year’s special election to fill the House seat he vacated when he quit; he lost. He also ran for Lapeer County prosecutor; he lost that race, too.

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