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Tea Party lawmaker tried to smear himself with gay prostitute scandal to cover up his real affair

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In what can only be described as a convoluted attempt at damage control, a Tea Party state legislator from Michigan plotted to smear himself with a rumor of a hook-up with a gay prostitute behind a nightclub to soften the blow before word got out that he was having an affair with another lawmaker.

In audio recordings obtained by the Detroit News, State Rep. Todd Courser (R) repeatedly tells aides, “I need a controlled burn” before revelations that he had been having an affair with fellow Tea Partier Rep. Cindy Gamra (R).

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A now-former House aide recorded Courser — a married father of four — in mid-May instructing him to send Republican activists an email from what would appear to be an anonymous political enemy claiming Courser had been “caught behind a Lansing nightclub” having sex with a man.

During a May 19 meeting, Courser instructed aide Ben Graham to send out “an over-the-top story that’s obscene about me” in the hopes that it would “inoculate the herd” — an apparent reference to Courser and Gamrat’s followers in the Tea Party movement.

“It will make anything else that comes out after that — that isn’t a video — mundane, tame by comparison,” Courser told Graham as Gamrat sat in the same room. Neither lawmaker denied they were having an affair in his presence.

After Graham refused, he was stripped of his duties and later fired by Courser.

At the same time, Gamrat — a mother of three — terminated top aide Keith Allard.

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Courser confirmed to the Detroit News that it is his voice on the recordings before telling a reporter to leave his law office.

Neither lawmaker has denied having an affair.

According to Detroit News, both Courser and Gamrat are social conservatives who often invoke their Christian faith in pursuit of new legislation governing gun rights, abortion and marriage.

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Michigan House Speaker Kevin Cotter (R) has called for an “open ended” investigation into the conduct of the two lawmakers for using their offices and staff to cover up the sexual affair.

“If Reps. Courser and Gamrat used state resources in an attempt to cover up their sexual affair, they have deceived their constituents and the public,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “These elected officials clearly have no regard for the trust that is given to them by the voters in their communities, whom Courser callously referred to as ‘the herd.’ It’s time for Courser and Gamrat to own up to this deception and take responsibility for their actions, they should resign their respective seats immediately.”

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Catholic leaders promised transparency about child abuse — but they haven’t delivered

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It took 40 years and three bouts of cancer for Larry Giacalone to report his claim of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a Boston priest named Richard Donahue.

Giacalone sued Donahue in 2017, alleging the priest molested him in 1976, when Giacalone was 12 and Donahue was serving at Sacred Heart Parish. The lawsuit never went to trial, but a compensation program set up by the archdiocese concluded that Giacalone “suffered physical injuries and emotional injuries as a result of physical abuse” and directed the archdiocese to pay him $73,000.

Even after the claim was settled and the compensation paid in February 2019, however, the archdiocese didn’t publish Donahue’s name on its list of accused priests. Nor did it three months later when Giacalone’s lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, criticized the church publicly for not adding Donahue’s name to the list.

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Mike Pompeo’s behavior is straight out of Nixon VP’s playbook: historians

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s expletive-laden dust-up with NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly is on message for the Trump-led Republican Party. Complaining that Kelly’s question about Ukraine was “another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President Trump and this Administration,” Pompeo has rallied the Republican base by slamming a journalist doing her job.

Whether he knows it or not, Pompeo is drawing from a playbook written a half century ago and perfected by a politician once voted the worst vice president in American history. Secretary Mike Pompeo, meet Vice President Spiro Agnew.

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‘Our chances of ever exiting the nightmare are shrinking’: Paul Krugman explains how the GOP is getting worse

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It is a great detriment to civil discourse that the divide between left and right in the United States is often depicted as being purely cultural — as if one’s politics were solely mediated by aesthetics, such as whether one prefers shooting guns or drinking lattes. This fabulist understanding of politics is harmful inasmuch as it masks the real social effects of the policy agendas pushed by left versus right. Seeing politics as aesthetic transforms what should be a quantitative debate — with statistics and numbers about taxation and public policy, questions of who benefits more or less from policy changes — and devolves it into a rhetorical debate over values.

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