- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 19, 2015

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan House late Wednesday voted to form a special committee to investigate two lawmakers’ fitness for office after they had an extramarital affair and are accused of misusing public resources in an attempt to cover it up.

In a resounding voice vote, the Republican-led chamber passed a resolution creating a panel of four Republicans and two Democrats to investigate the qualifications of first-term Reps. Todd Courser of Lapeer and Cindy Gamrat of Plainwell. The social conservatives from the GOP’s tea party wing could be expelled or disciplined in another way.

The House Business Office is already investigating whether Courser and Gamrat improperly used state resources to hide or divert attention from their affair and wrongly fired two aides who refused to help.

The office may finish its inquiry next week, but House Speaker Kevin Cotter said he called for the resolution Wednesday because the House will not be back in session until after Labor Day.

“We’re still going to wait for the report to come out. However, we’re going to keep all options open,” said Cotter, who held off on naming committee members.

The state constitution allows the 109-member House to expel a member with a two-thirds vote and gives the chamber broad discretion to decide grounds for expulsion. Cotter said the panel, which will have subpoena powers and be able to administer oaths, could recommend another form of discipline or no discipline.

The resolution notes that “confidence in government is a prerequisite to the functioning of a democratic society.” It also cites a House rule that prohibits members from converting state-provided staff, facilities, services or supplies for “personal, business and/or campaign use unrelated to House business.”

Courser, who declined to comment after the House vote, has apologized and admitted to orchestrating an email sent to Republicans and the media in May falsely claiming he had been caught having sex with a male prostitute behind a Lansing nightclub, apparently to make his backers not believe or disregard his relationship with Gamrat if it was revealed. He said he concocted the scheme because he was being blackmailed.

The Michigan State Police is investigating.

Gamrat was not immediately reachable for comment.

House Minority Leader Tim Greimel welcomed the panel’s formation.

“We have an obligation to delve into the facts in this committee, but that does not change the fact that law enforcement agencies continue to have a responsibility to look into whether criminal wrongdoing occurred,” he said.

Attorney General Bill Schuette declined to say Wednesday if his office is investigating.



House Resolution 129: https://1.usa.gov/1MEwzhe


Follow David Eggert at https://twitter.com/DavidEggert00

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide