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Special House panel meets to start considering fate of Courser, Gamrat

Posted at 8:21 AM, Sep 01, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-01 08:21:50-04

LANSING, Mich. -- Less than 24 hours after the release of a House Business Office report finding embattled State Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat were 'deceitful,' a Michigan House panel met for the first time Tuesday morning to begin considering  whether the two should remain in office.

The meeting was announced in conjunction with the release of the damning Monday report showing the conservative freshman lawmakers "misused their office, their office staff and other state resources to cover-up an affair."

The meeting lasted less than 15 minutes Tuesday morning, it was mostly called as a procedural matter to allow the report to be presented to committee members.

Courser did not appear at the meeting but Gamrat, alongside her attorney, was present and did speak with media afterward.

"I still think it's important to take responsibility for your actions, not to be held responsible for the actions of others, but for yours and that's what I'm here to do today," Gamrat told reporters Tuesday.

"It's not easy, I'm trying to understand the process better, to understand the allegations being brought against me, so I can help be part of a solution."

Gamrat said she is still considering all options when she'd resign when asked, but did say she continues to receive letters of support from constituents asking her to remain in office.

Mike Nichols, Gamrat's attorney who stood alongside her Tuesday, said they are exploring all options short of expulsion to resolve the issue.

"There's a lot we need to learn, there's a lot of details we've got to get our arms around and a lot of studying to do and historical precedent we still want to review and that's the business we're doing," he said.

"Cindy Gamrat the person just felt like she needed to be here and let them know we're ready to face what's coming."

The special committee was created by a resolution passed in August, viewed by many to be the first step toward expelling the pair of Republican members who have been in the news the past two months over a sex scandal and cover-up.

The bi-partisan committee is made up of six members:

  • Rep. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, Chair
  • Rep. Kurt Heise, R-Plymouth Township, Vice Chair
  • Rep. Rob VerHeulen, R-Walker
  • Rep. Andrea LaFontaine, R-Columbus Township
  • Rep. John Chirkun, D-Roseville, Minority Vice Chair
  • Rep. Frank Liberati, D-Allen Park

"I want to make absolutely sure justice is done for the Michigan taxpayer," Cotter said in a Monday statement.  “The people of Michigan have been betrayed enough by these two representatives, and it is time for us to address their failings and move on.  Today’s report will give the new committee the information it needs to do its job.”

Courser and Gamrat both have resisted calls to resign in the wake of the scandal.

Courser claims he was being blackmailed, but the House report said the alleged blackmail texts have "very little relevance" to their investigation.

Late Monday evening Courser released a rambling 4,000-plus word statement addressing the House Business Office report, calling it 'sanitized'.

"It is a little confusing to read the abridged and doctored report that has been released," he said. "Is this an investigation? Or is it only offering evidence that fits a desired outcome?"

Audio recordings obtained by the Detroit News in August revealed Courser, R- Lapeer,  was planning to distribute a fictional email alleging he had sex with a male prostitute in order to hide his relationship with Gamrat, R- Allegan County.