A Republican state representative in Michigan publicly apologized Friday for an affair she had with a state House representative, but she said she would not resign because of it. Rep. Cindy Gamrat (R-Plainwell) said at the press conference that she was sorry for her “personal indiscretion” but that she also believed that a House probe into the affair would exonerate her of any wrongdoing.
CBS News reported August 14 that Michigan state representative Cindy Gamrat tearfully admitted to having an extramarital affair with House colleague Todd Courser, a week after the strange sex scandal made headlines. With her husband standing by her side, Gamrat said, “I am sincerely sorry that I have disappointed so many by my actions.” After noting that she had made “poor decisions” regarding her personal life, she had done nothing wrong as an elected official. She went to say, “I believe an open and honest investigation will vindicate me.”
Rep. Gamrat and Rep. Courser (R-Lapeer), who is also married, came under investigation by the Michigan House of Representatives after allegations were made that an aide was fired for refusing to help hide their relationship. The House probe was launched to investigate whether or not the two representatives misused public resources to try and hide said relationship and, additionally, fired an aide who had refused to help.
Todd Courser, elected partly due to his belief that legislation should be guided by his Christian beliefs, has also said he will not resign, claiming via an audio statement earlier this week that the story he fabricated and presented to fellow Republicans and the media in May a false sexually explicit email claiming he was caught having sex with a male prostitute. This was done to deflect attention from the affair with Gamrat, he explained, but said the email was composed under duress. A “blackmailer,” he said, had sent anonymous text messages to his brother demanding that he resign or the extramarital affair would be exposed. Those messages were released on his Facebook page Thursday.
Gamrat, a Tea Party activist and social conservative who was elected on the back of a family values platform, claims to have no knowledge of the writing and sending of the email. She says she was made aware of it by a reporter.
And it is in the email and the circumstances surrounding it that will provide the focus of the House’s investigation. Because the affair, as scandalous it is, would have remained a personal distraction had it not been for the email and the involvement of an aide, Ben Graham, who was shared by both offices of Rep. Courser and Rep. Gamrat. Graham, who is one of three aides shared by the offices (to “eliminate redundancy and save taxpayer dollars,” Gamrat has stated), says Rep. Courser told him to take a sick day on which to send it. He refused to send the sexually charged email and along with another aide, Keith Allard, were fired in early July, just weeks after receiving raises. The third shared aide quit in April, prior to the sex scandal blow-up.
Since news of the affair broke, calls for the two lawmakers to resign have flooded in — and not just from the Democratic side of the political aisle. Joan Fabiano, a Tea Party activist and editor of Grassroots in Michigan, said in a statement (per MLive.com) that both Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser have to go. “We will remain consistent in demanding ethical behavior from our elected officials regardless of Party or affiliation,” Fabiano said. “With the revelations of the past few days, there is absolutely no reason that both Reps Courser and Gamrat should continue in office as their ability to credibly represent their constituents has been abridged beyond repair. However, an investigation should continue in order to discover all misuse of taxpayer funds.”
In an unscientific reader’s poll conducted on MLive.com, nearly 86 percent of those responding believe Rep. Courser should resign (as of this posting). Less than 8 percent think he should not. Less than 7 percent think that a decision should be made after the House investigation. The same poll saw just over 78 percent of responders of the inclination that Rep. Gamrat should resign. Nearly 12 percent say she should not. Barely 10 percent believe that the results of the investigation would better influence their decision.