September 11, 2015

If there's one thing you can say about Republican sex scandals, they're always more cinematic than Democrats. I can just see the made-for-TV movie now:

LANSING, MI — Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, embattled lawmakers accused of misconduct and misusing taxpayer resources to hide their extra-marital affair, are no longer representatives in the Michigan House.

Courser, R-Lapeer, resigned at 3:12 a.m. on Friday as the House prepared for a third vote on a resolution to expel him from office.

One hour later, the House voted 91-12 to expel Gamrat, R-Plainwell, making her just the fourth lawmaker ever to be removed from the Michigan Legislature by her peers.

Gamrat was immediately escorted from the chambers, and then the state Capitol, by House sergeants. She declined to speak with the media.

Courser, who spoke with reporters after turning in his resignation letter to the House clerk and walking off the floor, said it simply felt like the appropriate moment to step down. He was convinced the GOP majority was going to find enough Democratic votes to expel him.

"It's an unfortunate chapter, where we're at, obviously for the state House, for the state, for the Legislature, for my own family," Courser said. "It's time to turn a page and take a step forward and go in a different direction, obviously heal some stuff in my own house, and this House and this body can heal a little bit more as well."

The House Business Office, which launched an investigation last month at the request of Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, had accused both Courser and Gamrat of "deceptive, deceitful, and outright dishonest conduct."

The freshman lawmakers "abused their offices," according to an 833-page report made public this week. They directed staff to facilitate their affair, and they also blurred lines between official and political work, a potential violation of Michigan campaign finance rules.

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