LANSING, Mich. — Hearings to determine the futures of two state representatives continued Wednesday, where recordings made in secret by staffers detailing the efforts of their affair cover-up were played.
State Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat have admitted to having an affair and have been found by investigators to have spent state time and money on covering up the affair. The hearings this week in Lansing are to determine how or if the two lawmakers should be disciplined.
In secret audio recordings made by a fired staffer of Courser's, the lawmaker is heard discussing the "over-the-top" and "obscene" details that would be coming out about him in an email to cover up his affair with Gamrat and the need for a "controlled burn" to lessen the news. He talks about mixing truth with lies in the "smear campaign" against him.
Both Courser and Gamrat are at the hearing. Courser, who didn't speak yesterday but did submit a letter to the committee, is expected to testify on his own account.
Courser then took questions from the panel. He called himself a "desperate man" back in May when coming up with the idea to send the email saying that he had hired a male prostitute, trying to distract from news of his affair with Gamrat. When asked about his mindset, he said "I wanted to die." He said that he didn't recognize himself anymore in the recordings.
He also testified that he thinks Gamrat should only be censured and not expelled.
The hearings resumed 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.
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.