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Two new reps jump in before they're sworn in

Detroit News staff

Todd Courser and Gary Glenn haven't even been sworn into office and they're already stirring the political pot in Lansing.

Political observers in the capital city predicted the Nov. 4 election of Courser, a Lapeer attorney, and Glenn, a social and family values activist from Midland, would add a new zeal to the conservative House Republican caucus.

Last Friday, Courser sent one of his well-known email missives decrying outgoing House Speaker Jase Bolger's support for including gays and lesbians under the protection of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.


Bolger, R-Marshall, has tied his support for the legislation to passage of a companion bill protecting religious freedom for those who disapprove of homosexuality.

Courser called the civil rights legislation "liberty-killing" and said House Republicans should remove Bolger from the speaker's seat if he continues to masquerade as a "RINO, Democrat-lite" politician pushing a "statist, secular agenda."

"If this is unsuccessful, the caucus must turn their backs on their rogue leader and walk out, refusing to vote on any other piece of legislation during lame duck," Courser instructed.

Bolger spokesman Ari Adler declined to comment specifically on Courser's remarks.

"People are entitled to their opinions," Adler said. "Some people make their opinions public and some don't, which is also their right."

Glenn, meanwhile, has wasted no time trying to use the Legislature's researchers for a fact-finding mission on an issue related to the Affordable Care Act.

At 12:45 a.m. Monday, Glenn sent an email request asking about Obamacare architect JonathanGruber's contract work for the state.


Gruber has come under fire in the past week for a 2013 video that surfaced in which he said a "lack of transparency" and the "stupidity of the American voter" were "critical" factors in the 2010 passage of the act, a law the MIT economist helped craft. The Obama administration paid Gruber $392,600 for his consulting services, according to the Washington Post.

As it turns out, Gruber got extra work analyzing Michigan's insurance market through the Department of Community Health when the state was studying whether to create a health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act (which the Legislature ultimately blocked).

Health Management Associates in Lansing got the $481,050 contract and Gruber was a subcontractor, according to state records.

Glenn carbon-copied Lansing reporters on the email with questions for legislative staffers "because this is a public policy question in which policy makers, including me, are accountable to the public."

New gig for Nowling

Bill Nowling, a longtime Republican public relations operative, spent the past 20 months of his life in the trenches of Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy as Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr's spokesman.


It was a rough-and-tumble assignment defending Orr's pursuit of pension cuts, a regional water authority and cuts for financial companies that loaned Detroit money before it declared insolvency in July 2013.

But with the bankruptcy nearing an end, the mustachioed Nowling has exited City Hall and started a new job this week as senior partner at the global public relations firm Finn Partners.

Nowling has been charged with helping set up a permanent Detroit office and generating new business within the city. He's already assisting Democrat Warren Evans in his transition into the Wayne County executive's job. The firm also does digital communications work for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

"There's a lot of challenges facing Wayne County, similar to challenges in the city," Nowling told The Detroit News. "Anytime that you're in a pretty high profile PR job, that prepares you for a lot of different jobs."

A former Livingston County journalist, Nowling has been the spokesman for former Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema and Gov. Rick Snyder's 2010 campaign for governor. A press release from Finn Partners said Nowling "remains a trusted adviser" to Snyder.

Nowling, 48, said he had no interest uprooting his wife and three young children to New York or Washington, D.C., for a PR gig.

Extra duty for Schuette

Bill Schuette, who proudly proclaims himself to be Michigan's "on duty" attorney general, is taking on some extra duties next year.


On Monday, Schuette's GOP peers elected him chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association for a one-year term from late 2015 through most of 2016.

"With the announcement of our new team, RAGA will have strong, aggressive and seamless leadership in the years to come," Schuette said in a statement.

Schuette, a former congressman, state agriculture director, state senator and appeals court judge, sidestepped questions following his re-election earlier this month about whether he intends to run for governor in 2018.

Most Republican Party insiders, however, believe Schuette is positioning himself for yet another tour of public office duty.

Contributing: Chad Livengood