House speaker fights order to testify in Courser, Gamrat case
Lansing — House Speaker Kevin Cotter is appealing an Ingham County judge’s order that he testify next week at a criminal court hearing for former state Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat.
Cotter’s attorney filed an appeal Friday in Ingham County Circuit Court of District Court Judge Hugh B. Clarke Jr.’s ruling that the House Republican leader has to testify about statements he made to the Michigan State Police.
House attorney Gary Gordon argued that compelling Cotter’s testimony would violate his constitutional rights and “allow judicial intrusion into matters reserved to the Legislature,” such as the power to investigate and expel members for misconduct.
Gordon requested an Ingham County Circuit Court judge take emergency action to halt the lower court’s ruling by Monday, arguing the Mount Pleasant Republican should be afforded immunity for his actions as a state legislator.
“If (Cotter) is compelled to testify and to answer questions that fall within the purview of his activities as Speaker and as a member of the Michigan House of Representatives prior to appellate review of this issue, his constitutional rights against such compelled testimony will be violated and he will be irreparably harmed,” Gordon wrote in a court brief Friday.
In his Thursday ruling, Clarke noted the House passed a Sept. 11 resolution calling for an investigation by the state police and Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office as part of a deal to expel Gamrat from office. Courser resigned an hour before his all but certain expulsion vote.
Clarke has scheduled a two-day hearing Wednesday and Thursday to determine whether probable cause exists for Courser and Gamrat to stand trial for misconduct in office related to covering up their extramarital affair and lying to House investigators about it.
Courser faces an additional charge of perjury for allegedly lying a House committee under oath about whether he instructed House employees to forge his signature on proposed legislation.
This week, Clarke ruled that House Chief of Staff and General Counsel Brock Swartzle and GOP legal counsel Hassan Beydoun would have to testify at Courser and Gamrat’s probable cause hearing.
The judge also said Courser and Gamrat’s attorneys could call as witnesses House Clerk Gary Randall, House Business Office Director Tim Bowlin and his deputy, Doug Simon, as well as Deborah Wroubel, financial operations director for the House.
The House has not appealed that ruling.