Joshua Cline, the former state legislative aide to the Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat offices in Lansing, Michigan, said Monday during a news conference that the sexual relationship between the two elected officials was “not an urban legend” and that the lawmakers’ actions became so unprofessional as to create a hostile work environment. Cline described working for the Republican state representatives as “untenable.”
The Detroit News reported August 17 that ex-aide Joshua Cline, speaking at the Dailey Law Firm in Royal Oak, said he had brought up the seeming inappropriate relationship between Rep. Todd Courser (R-Lapeer) and Rep. Cindy Gamrat (R-Plainwell) in January at a late night staff meeting, suggesting the two “adopt and enforce professional and personal boundaries.” His suggestion was dismissed and he was told “as a mere staffer such a suggestion was not my place.”
Cline resigned his position in April, a month before the composing of the strange email that Courser claims to have fictitiously written because he was being blackmailed about the affair. The email, one that claimed he was caught having sex with a male prostitute behind a Lansing nightclub, was supposedly designed to distract from any news that might allude to a sexual relationship between Courser and Gamrat.
Cline, who technically worked for Rep. Todd Courser’s office, became part of a shared aide system between the two legislators offices — an odd arrangement given that the districts represented by the two were over 130 miles apart. He had worked with Courser on his election campaign and had went to Lansing to work as an aide for the newly elected Michigan House member. Cline said, according to the Detroit Free Press, that he was shocked to find that in Lansing Courser treated his staffers with disrespect and adopted a “haughty and elitist” attitude.
But Courser and Gamrat had become political allies while running together for Michigan Republican Party leadership posts back in 2013. The relationship apparently grew into something more intimate over time. Joshua Cline gave a few details as to how Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser would conduct themselves. He said that Courser often slept on the floor of Gamrat’s office and that she would “tuck (Courser) in with a pillow and a blanket.”
He told reporters: “Reps. Courser and Gamrat would routinely disappear for hours at a time, especially on Thursdays after session, and then ask us (to) then go get them dinner. They spent an inordinate amount of time going for walks with each other during the day.” And Courser would often comment to Gamrat “how beautiful she was or how nice she looked that day,” Cline said.
“It was excessive and personal and awkward to witness,” Cline said. “Rapidly, I began to suspect that Rep. Gamrat and Rep. Courser were having an inappropriate physical relationship.” By April, after noticing that the two legislators, both married and having children (she with three, he with four), Cline said he had had enough and resigned.
However, prior to his resignation, he had taken the matter to members of the office of Speaker of the House Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant. But he said he “felt there was no relief forthcoming.” (In fact, per the Detroit News, “House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant, put an end to Courser and Gamrat’s combined office Aug. 10, three days after The News first reported on Courser’s email scheme.”)
But Cline knew months before resigning that an affair between Courser and Gamrat had been going on. He said that the encounter between the amorous Republican lawmakers and Gamrat’s husband, Joe, at a Radisson Hotel in Lansing was not an urban legend. And he found out when Joe Gamrat phoned him on February 12.
Cline said: “He told me, as a warning that ‘you’re going to be in for a very bad day.’ He had seen Todd and Cindy stay in their legislative offices until late at night. He had also seen Cindy leave Todd’s hotel room at 2 a.m. Cindy arrived late that day looking disheveled. … And (Courser) spent most of the time leaning on cabinets in Rep. Gamrat’s office. He was distraught, despondent, very quiet. They spent a lot of time in their back office that day.”
Last week, Rep. Todd Courser released a near-half-hour long audio statement wherein he branded Joshua Cline, Ben Graham, and Keith Allard (the latter two were aides fired in July; Graham would later turn over a secret taping of Courser discussing the fictional email) as members of a “Lansing mafia” out to depose him. However, he refused to resign his legislative position.
As did Rep. Cindy Gamrat when she tearfully confessed to her affair with Courser (although she never said his name) on Friday. She referred to their relationship as “personal indiscretions” and apologized to her constituents. She said that the investigation launched by the Michigan legislature would exonerate her of any wrongdoing.
Joshua Cline told reporters that he was cooperating fully with the Michigan House Business Office probe into the matter, which will reportedly conclude by the end of the week. However, he would not comment on whether or not the state representatives had broken any House rules or whether there was any evidence of illegal behavior in regard to using taxpayer dollars inappropriately. Cline and the other two staffers have also noted that Rep. Courser’s “Lansing mafia” accusations were ridiculous, the Detroit News reported.