Committee hearings continue, Rep. Courser expected to testify

Posted at 8:26 AM, Sep 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-09 08:26:25-04

LANSING, Mich. — Embattled state Rep. Todd Courser is expected to testify Wednesday before a House committee as hearings continue in determining whether he and fellow lawmaker Rep. Cindy Gamrat are fit to hold office.

The hearings resume this morning following a tearful apology issued yesterday from Gamrat to committee members.

On Tuesday, Gamrat said she would accept “public censure” for her misconduct after admitting to knowing about an ‘over the top’ email, referring to the cover-up letter sent out by Courser, but she claimed she didn’t know the contents of the email beforehand.

She also admitted staff in her and Courser’s combined offices were treated poorly. For the first since the scandal broke, Gamrat addressed her constituents later Tuesday evening in Fennville.

Courser was also seen in the audience of Tuesday’s committee hearing but did not speak. He did release the following statement to the committee:

Dear Committee:

I offer my most humble and most sincere apology to each and every one of you for my role in the events and actions surrounding the investigation, by the select committee, formed through House Resolution 129 for the Michigan House of Representatives.

I admit I had an inappropriate relationship with Representative Cindy Gamrat. I admit that I attempted to cover up the affair by sending an outlandish email. My actions in and around these events, did not rise to the honor that has been bestowed upon me as State Representative.

It was a mistake to hire friends to work as staffers in my office. I did not set clear guidelines on strict use of government time. This created an untenable situation for the staffers and the official office in Lansing. The lack of clarity of roles and responsibility caused difficulty in delineating personal, political, and official duties for the staff. Under these conditions, maintaining and allowing joint staffing with Representative Cindy Gamrat was set up for failure. My office staff is now separated and is in compliance with the House Business Office Rules. I implemented structure and clarity of roles to avoid the misuse of state facilities and/or funds.

I admit that my actions after the affair became public were clearly inappropriate. It was an emotional reaction and not well thought out. Moving forward, I take full responsibility for my actions and lack of better judgment.

I sincerely and humbly ask for forgiveness from all those involved. I ask forgiveness because I presented myself in a way that brought embarrassment not only on me and family, but on the House, my district, and the state. I take full responsibility for my actions that jeopardized the integrity of the Michigan Legislature. For that, I am truly sorry.

I ask that you consider a public censure in lieu of expulsion to allow me the opportunity to redeem myself in the public eye and restore the integrity of the State of Michigan. I am willing to respectfully pay for the misuse of taxpayers’ dollars outlined in the report. I understand and accept any conditions placed upon my office by the House of Representatives to allow this regretful chapter to close. I believe this is the best outcome possible both for the 82 nd District and also for the people of our great Sate,

God Bless,

Representative Todd Courser

An attorney for the House during Tuesday’s hearing recommended Courser be expelled from his position and Gamrat be censured.

“It is my recommendation that Rep. Courser be expelled from the Michigan House of Representatives today,” said Brock Swartzle, an attorney with Michigan House of Representatives.

There are three possible outcomes to consider: Expulsion, censure or—while unlikely—the committee could choose to take no action at all in disciplining Courser and Gamrat over their extra marital affair and bizarre attempt to cover it up using their taxpayer-funded offices.

A House Business Office investigation, released in full Tuesday, found both Courser and Gamrat participated in the cover up and lied to investigators. Both have refused to resign.

>> Read: Full 800+ page House Business Office Investigation report released