Michigan Rep. Gamrat tossed from GOP caucus for budget leaks
Lansing — Rep. Cindy Gamrat of Plainwell, a tea party Republican seeking to succeed new GOP Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel as the state party's national committeewoman, has been removed from her House caucus, she confirmed Thursday.
Gamrat said House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant, expelled her from weekly House Republican caucus meetings for allegedly divulging internal caucus discussions in a Facebook musing Wednesday about the state budget process.
Word of Gamrat's expulsion circulated early Thursday afternoon, but the chief spokesman for Cotter wouldn't confirm it.
"There's a longstanding rule — what happens in caucus stays in caucus," said Cotter press secretary Gideon D'Assandro.
The caucus ouster reflects the continuing strains in the Republican Party between establishment conservatives in leadership positions and tea party conservatives who chafe at what they argue is their colleagues' lack of ideological purity.
Gamrat said she was told she was no longer welcome in caucus meetings because of the following Facebook posting she made while attending a GOP budget workshop:
"Listening to subcommittees reviewing their budgets. How do we get to free market solutions when our starting point is Medicaid and more and more government programs being funded, from daycares to dental programs to planned parenthood(?)"
Gamrat, in a text message to The Detroit News, said she ran for office "on a platform of transparency and accountability" but was told her posting "was a violation of the sanctity of the caucus."
"In no way did I reveal anything confidential from the meeting, and I have never violated the integrity of our caucus," she added. "I may disagree on issues with my colleagues, but I respect the trust between us."
She said she will "work diligently and independently every day" for her constituents' interests ... even if I must stand alone" and signed off "(w)ith firm reliance on divine providence."
Gamrat is the second House member this year to be bounced out of a party caucus. Democrats expelled Detroit Rep. Harvey Santana for accepting Cotter's appointment to the Appropriations Committee minority vice chairmanship, which party members wanted to go to Rep. Brandon Dillon of Grand Rapids.
Gamrat was elected to the House in November and has been an ally of another new tea party-leaning member, Rep. Todd Courser, R-Lapeer. She announced this month she will be a candidate for the national committeewoman slot the party plans to fill May 9 when its state committee meets in northern Michigan.
McDaniel was chosen the new state party leader at the GOP's convention in Lansing in February.