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).
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.
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.
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.”