Michigan lawmaker fakes gay prostitute smear to cover up affair
This is a truly bizarre story that is unique in the annals of political scandals.
A Michigan state representative, Todd Courser, had an aide send an email to supporters and activists from an anonymous account claiming he had been caught having sex with a male prostitute. The fabricated smear was supposed to deflect atttention from an affair Courser was carrying on with another lawmaker.
The Detroit News ( http://bit.ly/1T9vCvY ) obtained two recordings secretly made in May by a former aide of state Rep. Todd Courser, a tea party-backed social conservative from Lapeer. In the recordings, Courser asks the aide, Ben Graham, to email Republican activists and operatives from an anonymous account to create "a complete smear campaign" about him.
In the recordings, Courser tells Graham that he and state Rep. Cindy Gamrat, with whom he took the unusual step of combining office operations, received identical text messages about their relationship that day from an unknown number. Courser wonders aloud whether someone had pictures, video or audio recordings of him and Gamrat.
Neither Courser, a married father of four, nor Gamrat, a married mother of three, directly confirmed or denied having a sexual relationship during the recorded conversations. But they also didn't dispute Graham's characterization of their relationship as an extramarital affair, the newspaper reported.
Courser said the email he wanted Graham to send would "inoculate the herd" — an apparent reference to his and Gamrat's supporters.
"It will make anything else that comes out after that — that isn't a video — mundane, tame by comparison," Courser told the aide.
Graham said when he refused to send the email, he was stripped of some of his duties before Courser fired him in early July. The sexually explicit email was received by Republicans on May 20 and 21, the two days following Courser's recorded meeting with Graham. During the meeting, Courser reads aloud portions of a draft email. The newspaper said it's unclear who actually sent it.
The Associated Press sent messages seeking comment from Courser and Gamrat. Both lawmakers declined to comment to the Detroit News about reasons for the dismissals of Graham and an aide of Gamrat's.
"I'm not going to talk about any kind of staff-related issues," Gamrat told the newspaper.
Courser confirmed "that's my voice" as a reporter played the recording in his office lobby, but he disputed the legality of the recording.
This hare-brained scheme is idiotic on several levels. First, how could anyone think a gay smear would "innoculate the herd" against further revelations of a heterosexual affair? Even if the gay smear was proved false, how could anyone believe that being outed as an adulterer would be "tame by comparison"?
Secondly, discussing the plot over the phone is stupid. Chicago politicians assume that all their phone calls are recorded. Plotters everywhere should assume the same thing.
Finally, if you're going to have an affair with a co-worker, you don't take the step of sharing office space. It's like putting up a big sign saying, "We're having an affair!"
Mr. Courser's actions may or may not be criminal. But the ethically challenged lawmaker – and his mistress – will almost certainly have to resign.