House expels Gamrat; Courser resigns

Sep 11, 2015

The effort to expel Todd Courser was first on the agenda. Many hours of floor debate, cajoling, and, finally, a standoff that lasted through the night ended with Courser walking to the front of the House chamber to hand the clerk a brief letter of resignation. Courser then walked back to his desk, collected his things and was escorted out of the chamber by three red-coated sergeants-at-arms, who confiscated his key cards that got him into the parking lot, the House Office Building, and the state Capitol.

Courser said it had become clear he might have delayed the result for a while, but the end was inevitable.

“It felt like they were just going to go until they got their answer.”

But Cindy Gamrat decided she was not going to leave without making the House vote on it.

“I still believe my actions may warrant censure, but not expulsion.”

Gamrat said she’s apologized, worked to make amends with her colleagues, her constituents,  and her family. And, she kept a promise to work with the House through the process and affirm the findings of an internal misconduct inquiry.

“I have done everything to redeem this situation, and I am sincerely sorry for what it’s caused, and I don’t know what else I could have done more.”

Courser and Gamrat are Tea Partiers who’ve been a thorny and combative presence in the Republican caucus for a year and a half and had few, if any, friends on either side of the aisle.

They faced expulsion for using public resources in an over-the-top plot to use a salacious e-mail riddled with falsehoods to cover up their extra-marital affair.

But Republican House Speaker Kevin Cotter said there was no joy in getting rid of them.

“This is nothing to celebrate, but I think it was a very necessary process. I think there’s been a cloud hanging over us for some time, and it was important that we came together tonight, this morning, and ultimately addressed it.”

But what was initially supposed to be swift and sure punishment stalled as House Republican leaders apparently didn’t count the votes before they put the question on the board.

“…There are 67 aye votes and 14 naye votes.”

“An insufficient number voting, the resolution is not adopted…”

The Michigan Constitution requires a two-thirds super-majority to remove a legislator – that adds up to 73 votes in the House, so Republicans needed the support of Democrats to make that number. But a lot of Democrats either voted “no” or simply refused to vote through the night because they said, the process failed to look into House Speaker Kevin Cotter’s role in the whole affair.

Republicans agreed to send all the materials from the inquiry to the Michigan State Police and the Attorney General’s office. And House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel said that was enough to settle the issue.   

“We were very concerned about the lack of probative investigation that took place. We believe that it was an attempt to kick things under the rug, to cover things up, and we believe we needed a further, in-depth investigation by a law enforcement agency.”     

But that did not stop Greimel and other Democrats from switching over and voting to expel Gamrat without waiting for the results of that investigation.