Gamrat reported blackmail claim through House security

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Republican state Rep. Cindy Gamrat enlisted the help of the head of security for the House of Representatives to report an alleged blackmail scheme to law enforcement authorities rather than go directly to the Michigan State Police herself.

On Friday, Gamrat told reporters she “turned over to state authorities” and her attorney cell phone text messages she received in connection with alleged threats made against her and Rep. Todd Courser to resign from office or have their relationship publicly exposed.

Courser, R-Lapeer, called the text messages a “blackmail” plot earlier in the week in trying to explain why he had a mass anonymous email sent out to fellow Republicans smearing himself.

“Texts that I’ve received I’ve turned over to state authorities and also to the Abood law firm,” Gamrat said at a news conference in East Lansing in which she publicly apologized for her a “personal indiscretion.”

When a reporter asked Gamrat whether she turned over the text messages to the Michigan State Police, the Plainwell Republican replied: “Yes, sir.”

But the Michigan State Police has received no text messages or complaint from Gamrat as of late Friday afternoon, spokeswoman Shanon Banner said.

Late Friday night, a spokesman for Gamrat clarified that she turned over the phone number of the alleged blackmailer to David Dickson Jr., the chief sergeant-at-arms for the House of Representatives.

“She gave the number to (Dickson) over the phone,” Gamrat spokesman Justin Near told The Detroit News. “He confirmed with her that he gave the texts/info to the state police and referred her to HR Tim Bowlin with any further questions.”

Bowlin is the head of human resources for the House of Representatives and is investigating Gamrat and Courser’s conduct following allegations by former aides that the representatives used taxpayer resources to conceal their relationship.

Dickson told Gamrat he would pass along the phone number to Bowlin, but that he would not go to the state police on her behalf, said Gideon D’Assandro, spokesman for House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant.

“She never asked him to pass it along to the state police,” D’Assandro said late Friday.

The Sergeant-at-Arms office is a police agency with arrest powers, but is largely a force charged with providing armed security for the House of Representatives, its members and their offices in downtown Lansing.

Banner, the state police spokeswoman, said Saturday that Dickson has not filed a complaint with the department.

The fuzzy details of Gamrat’s efforts to report the alleged blackmail scheme come after Courser visited a state police post in Lapeer on Friday – three days after initially saying he had already reported the text messages to “proper authorities.”

A spokesman for the FBI declined to comment Wednesday when asked whether Courser visited the bureau’s Flint field office the prior day.

Courser claimed Tuesday that Republican political consultant David Forsmark and former aides Joshua Cline, Ben Graham and Keith Allard worked together “to concoct a plot to remove him from office,” according to a Facebook post. Forsmark and the former aides have denied sending the text messages.

Courser went to the state police “on his own accord and spoke to an investigator” Friday, Banner said.

“We have opened an investigation,” Banner said in an email to The News. “Given it is an open investigation, I have no other information to share.”

clivengood@detroitnews.com

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