Cindy Gamrat, a Michigan Representative, was a relatively unknown stateswoman until the salacious news broke that yet another politician has been ensnared with the opprobrious bulletin that instantly rockets any office-bearer into the beacon of public scrutiny – an adulterous sex affair.
A tearful Gamrat, flanked by her husband, two military veterans and a few members of her staff, said she holds the state legislature “in the highest regard, and it’s a tremendous privilege and honor to serve my district.” Gamrat apologized for the “negative attention this has brought,” and said that she and her husband have been “working through this together privately,” and admitted to seeking marriage counseling.
Writes the Detroit Free Press on Aug. 14: “The Plainwell Republican, one of the most conservative members of the Legislature, who was elected on a platform of Christian morality and family values, said Friday that she merely wanted to say she was sorry for her ‘personal indiscretion.’”
Gamrat, 42, had an affair with fellow state Republican freshman Todd Courser, 43, who is also married. Gamrat said in her press conference that she “knows she has made some personal decisions that do not line up with” who she is or her beliefs, and that she is “sincerely sorry” that she has “disappointed so many by her actions.”
She also thanked those that “have called on me to resign. I know that many of you have reached out to me out of care and concern for me and my family, and regardless of what you have recommended, I want you to know that I appreciate your advice, your concern and your insight.”
At the center of the affair is an email, designed to be a smokescreen for a bizarre cover-up fueled by alleged blackmail. Courser, who like Gamrat bases legislation on so-called Christian beliefs, copped to orchestrating a “false, sexually explicit email to Republicans and reporters in May claiming he was caught having sex with a male prostitute to deflect attention from the affair,” reports CBS News. The email claimed Courser was addicted to pornography and drugs and paid to have sex with a man outside a bar in Lansing.
Courser said the email was sent after he was blackmailed with anonymous text messages sent to his brother that commanded he resign or his affair would be exposed. Courser released screen shots of the May messages on his Facebook page. The text messager says he or she has information “that can rattle Lansing to the core,” but says all will be “let off the hook” if Todd resigns.
Gamrat claimed to have no knowledge of the email sent by Courser in response to the blackmail, asserting to not have “authored” or “assisted” in sending the email, claiming she was unaware of it until pointed out to her by a reporter. She also spoke of the fact she shared staff with Courser – an unusual arrangement since they each represent opposite sides of the state – and the fact that some were given raises but then fired.
Adds CBS News: “One of the aides, Ben Graham, refused to send the fictional email after Courser told him to take a sick day to do it, according to secret recordings and text messages he gave The Detroit News. Graham and another staffer, Keith Allard, received healthy pay raises in June but were fired in early July. The third aide, Josh Cline, quit in April.”
Gamrat said the sharing of staffers was to “eliminate redundancy and save taxpayer dollars,” and that “under no circumstances was anyone on my staff terminated because of a personal indiscretion on my part.”
Many have also called into question Gamrat’s decision to bring up two veterans and use them as “props” during her weeping admission.
“They came to show support, they’re from my district,” Gamrat said. “They both served in the military and when walking through the doors I figured if they can face what they have faced in the military, faced a shooting squad, I can try to face you guys here today.”
According to MLive.com, Sen. David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights, a former Marine, “took exception on Twitter to Gamrat’s decision to have the veterans with her Friday.” As did Democratic political consultant Joe DiSano, who labeled the move both “tasteless and unnecessary.”
“Classless move using veterans as props during your presser,” Knezek tweeted. “Comparing your indiscretions to combat service is an insult.”
“The egotism and lack of self-awareness on the parts of Gamrat and Courser is epic,” DiSano tweeted.
House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, has since ordered the House Business Office to investigate both Courser and Gamrat in order to determine if any House rules or laws governing their appointments have been violated. Cindy Gamrat said she “intends to fully cooperate with the investigation.”