Panel leader expects daily hearings on Courser, Gamrat

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau
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Lansing — State Rep. Ed McBroom, a dairy farmer from Dickinson County, had plans to harvest a third crop of alfalfa this week and attend events related to energy and workforce development in his rural Upper Peninsula district.

But the third-term Republican from Vulcan likely will end up spending the entire week in Lansing, leading an extraordinary special House committee created to decide whether Republican Reps. Todd Courser of Lapeer and Cindy Gamrat of Plainwell are fit to remain in the office.

House Speaker Kevin Cotter on Monday tapped McBroom to chair the Select Committee to Examine the Qualifications of Representatives Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser.

The panel meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday to organize and schedule what likely will be daily hearings that could stretch into next week as House leaders move quickly to pursue a possible expulsion of Courser and Gamrat for misconduct and misusing taxpayer resources.

“As the chairman, I’m trying to be sensitive to the fact that no one expected to be in Lansing this week to deal with this kind of problem,” McBroom said Monday.

McBroom said the committee’s investigation will be largely driven by the evidence and testimony uncovered by the House Business Office. A House-passed resolution gives the committee power to seek subpoenas to compel witnesses, including Courser and Gamrat, to appear and testify in person.

The business office released a summary of its findings Monday that said Courser and Gamrat misused their offices “to cover-up an affair” and to create a benefit to “their own political advantage.”

Cotter tapped Republican Rep. Kurt Heise of Plymouth as vice chairman of the panel.

“The purpose of this committee is to make clear, in no uncertain terms, what kind of behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable for a member of this body, and whether or not these two individuals violated those tenets,” Heise, who is an attorney, said in a statement.

Cotter also appointed Republican Reps. Rob VerHeulen of Walker and Andrea LaFontaine of Columbus Township, and Democratic Reps. John Chirkun of Roseville and Frank Liberati of Allen Park.

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