Editorial: Courser, Gamrat should resign or get the boot
If state Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat can’t read the handwriting on the wall, they ought to get themselves some stronger glasses.
The two Republican lawmakers at the center of a Capitol sex scandal abused their offices and taxpayer money in a bizarre scheme to cover up their extramarital relationship, according to a preliminary review of the evidence by the House Business Office.
Next comes a review of the findings by a special six-member House committee, which could start misconduct hearings that may lead to expulsion of the freshmen lawmakers.
Courser and Gamrat should have the good grace to spare their colleagues, their constituents and their families from that ordeal.
They should resign now and allow the House to focus on more urgent business, such as finding a funding solution for Michigan’s dismal roads.
If hearings become necessary, they will be a major distraction to the Legislature this fall, a time when it should be addressing the critical issues facing the state. Beyond roads, lawmakers also must hunker down to debate Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed Detroit school reforms.
The expulsion process is also quite likely to make public salacious details of the scandal that will further hurt the spouses and children of the lawmakers.
Both Courser and Gamrat have been disowned by the local GOP committees in their home districts, and calls for their resignations by their peers are growing.
Gamrat has hinted she is weighing a resignation. Courser is another matter. He exhibits all the signs of egomania, and seems to have convinced himself he is the victim in this mess.
What Courser and Gamrat are accused of doing is enlisting their state-paid staff members to help them cover-up their relationship, including asking them to participate in an email blast that sought to paint Courser as a bisexual, porn-addicted pervert. His hope was that the accusation would be viewed as so outrageous it would also cast doubt on rumors of an affair. You can’t make this stuff up.
Stupidity, obviously, is not grounds for expelling a lawmaker. But once they attempted to involve their staffs in their plot, it became another matter. Some of the staffers who refused to participate were later fired.
This sordid business is going to get uglier if expulsion proceedings begin. Courser and Gamrat should redeem at least a portion of their reputations by handing in resignation letters.
But there’s no reason to stop at those two.
For most of this legislative session, Sen. Virgil Smith, D-Detroit, has remained a sitting lawmaker even though he faces felony assault charges for firing a rifle several times during a violent encounter with his ex-wife.
We have held out asking for Smith’s resignation or expulsion, giving him the benefit of the doubt while the criminal justice process unfolds.
But now Smith has said he will plead insanity, citing a head injury incurred in a traffic accident. That admission of diminished capacity, particularly since he claims it exhibits itself in violent behavior, in itself makes Smith unsuitable for office. He, too, should voluntarily leave.
If the three compromised lawmakers won’t do the right thing, their colleagues should.