How Courser-Gamrat scandal unfolded

Detroit News staff

The genesis of the scandal with former Reps. Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, and Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell, that involved the cover-up of their extramarital affair and misuse of taxpayer resources:

Jan. 14: Courser and Gamrat take their oaths of office. In an unusual arrangement, they combined House office operations using shared staff.

Jan. 20: Courser and Gamrat battle publicly with fellow Republicans, issuing a “liberty response” to GOP Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State address — the kind of retort that typically comes from Democrats.

April 15: Courser and Gamrat’s legislative director Joshua Cline resigns, suspecting his bosses “were having an inappropriate physical relationship.” Cline is a longtime friend of Courser’s who helped him get elected to the House.

April 16: House Speaker Kevin Cotter kicks Gamrat out of the Republican caucus for leaking confidential information from closed-door meetings. In protest, Courser calls Cotter a “bully” and stops regularly attending the meetings.

May 19: Courser calls aide Ben Graham to his Lapeer law office. He orders the state employee to send fellow Republicans an “over-the-top” fictional email claiming Courser was caught having sex with a male prostitute — in a bid to obscure the affair. Graham records the meeting without Courser’s knowledge.

May 20:Graham rejects Courser’s order by text message. The fictional email gets sent to Republicans around the state during the next two days.

May 21: Courser pulls Graham into a meeting in Gamrat’s office where he and Gamrat apologize to Graham and discuss their relationship. The email is discussed in front of Gamrat. A Capitol reporter asks Gamrat about the email later that day on the House floor.

July 2: With approval from Courser and Gamrat, staffer Keith Allard and Graham begin dismantling the combined office operation, separating the two representatives’ shared calendars and key-card access to Gamrat’s office.

July 4: Gamrat’s husband, Joe, tips off Allard that Courser and his wife are planning to fire the aides the next week.

July 7: Courser and Gamrat fire Graham and Allard, who were at-will employees.

Aug. 7:The Detroit News reveals the existence of Graham’s May 19 audio recording of Courser plotting to create the appearance of a smear campaign against himself and Gamrat. House Speaker Kevin Cotter orders the House’s business office to conduct an open-ended investigation of Courser and Gamrat. Fellow Republicans begin calling for their resignations.

Aug. 10: Courser responds to The News’ story in a rambling 27-minute audio recording and claims the email was meant to root out an alleged “blackmail” plot to force him and Gamrat to resign.

Aug. 14: Gamrat holds a press conference in East Lansing, apologizes for her “personal indiscretion” and contends the House investigation will exonerate her.

Aug. 19: The Michigan House creates a special committee to investigate Courser and Gamrat’s conduct — the first step toward expulsion proceedings.

Aug. 31: The House Business Office accuses Courser and Gamrat of engaging in “deceptive, deceitful and outright dishonest conduct” by using their offices, staff and taxpayer dollars to “cover up an affair” and work on political pursuits. The report says Courser and Gamrat lied to investigators. Courser calls the special committee a “kangaroo court.”

Sept. 8-9: The special committee holds hearings. Courser and Gamrat testify that they committed misconduct and misused taxpayer resources for political and personal use, but apologize and ask for a censure.

Sept. 10: A House special committee votes 4-0 to expel Courser and Gamrat with two Democrats abstaining.

Sept. 11: The state House votes 91-12 to expel Gamrat — more than the two-thirds majority required by the state Constitution — an hour after Courser resigns.

Source: Detroit News reporting and House Business Office investigation report