Gamrat camp says it is close to identifying texter

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Private investigators hired by embattled state Rep. Cindy Gamrat have identified the individual who owns the phone number used to send her and Rep. Todd Courser text messages threatening to reveal their Capitol romance if they didn’t resign, Gamrat spokesman Justin Near said Thursday.

Near said he would not release the person’s name until the investigators get a second source confirming the person’s identity. After that, he said, the legal team for the Plainwell Republican will release the name publicly and hand over evidence to law enforcement authorities.

But Near said the name that was traced back to a 313-area code phone number is not Gamrat, Courser, Courser’s brother, Gamrat’s husband Joe or the lawmakers’ former aides — Keith Allard, Joshua Cline and Ben Graham.

“It doesn’t appear that any of the names that have been tossed around are behind it,” Near told The Detroit News.

The House Business Office is investigating whether Courser, the Lapeer Republican, and Gamrat used their state employees to conceal or cover up their extramarital relationship. The investigation was launched Aug. 7 after The Detroit News revealed Courser plotted the distribution of an email sent to fellow Republicans in late May claiming he was caught having sex with a male prostitute.

Courser, R-Lapeer, has admitted to sending the anonymous email to fellow Republicans, but argued the missive was meant to “misdirect attention” and “expose” someone sending him and Gamrat anonymous text messages threatening to reveal their relationship if they didn’t resign. Courser has released copies of “freakishly stalking” text messages he and his brother Dan have said were sent to their phones.

Courser previously accused the three former aides and Flint-area political consultant David Forsmark of being part of a “network” to “blackmail” him and Gamrat into resigning. Neither of them is the name Gamrat’s private investigators have turned up, Near said.

Courser and Gamrat have not publicly explained why they didn’t go to authorities earlier this year when they purportedly began receiving threatening text messages.

On May 21, Graham recorded a meeting with Courser and Gamrat in which the lawmakers suspected that Joe Gamrat was sending the anonymous messages. Graham provided the audio recording to The Detroit News.

“One of the issues is that the contact, umm, I’m about 90, 80 to 90 percent sure that it is Joe himself … trying to get her to resign,” Courser said.

“Yep,” Gamrat replied.

“He’s just trying to, trying to bring her to that spot, which is messed up all in of itself,” Courser said. “But he’s obviously into my phone and whatever else. He’s a pretty, pretty crafty guy when it comes to all that.”

Graham recorded the May 21 meeting inside Gamrat’s House office after refusing Courser’s May 19 request to send the anonymous email to Republicans.

Gamrat later pondered aloud if her husband was involved. “It’s just hard for me to wrap my head around it,” Gamrat said.

Near downplayed Gamrat’s speculation about her husband. “I’m sure a lot of names were tossed around as possibly being behind those threatening texts,” he said.

Joe Gamrat did not return messages seeking comment.

Courser declined to comment Wednesday on whether he still believes Joe Gamrat sent the text messages.

“I’m not talking to you again,” Courser told a Detroit News reporter.