Michigan Rep. Cindy Gamrat apologizes for affair, denies role in email cover-up
LANSING, MI — Michigan state Rep. Cindy Gamrat on Friday apologized for her role in a Capitol sex scandal but said she has not decided whether to resign or stay in office.
"I am sincerely sorry I have disappointed so many by my actions," Gamrat, R-Plainwell, said Friday during a press event at the law office of attorney Andrew Abood.
Flanked by her husband, Gamrat made her first public statements since last Friday, when audio recordings surfaced suggesting that she and state Rep. Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, had attempted to cover up an extra-marital affair.
Emotional from the onset, Gamrat expressed contrition but said she believes an ongoing House investigation will show she did not misuse taxpayer resources or break any state laws.
"Although I am not proud of my personal conduct, in regards to my position as state representative of the 80th district, I believe that an open and honest investigation will vindicate me," she said.
Gamrat acknowledged that she has considered resignation but said she has not made any final decisions on that front. She plans to return to work next week.
"I respect the opinion of those that would like to see me resign," Gamrat said. "For now, I believe the best path is for me to move forward, and I intend to continue to represent my district to the best of my ability."
The House Business Office is investigating whether Gamrat and Courser used staff or other state resources to hide their affair.
Courser, as heard on audio recordings by a former staffer, plotted an email accusing himself of doing drugs and having sex with a male prostitute, an apparent attempt to distract from the truth.
In the May 19 meeting at his Lapeer law office, Courser reportedly took a call from someone he identified as Gamrat, and both lawmakers reportedly met with a shared staffer the next day in her official Lansing office.
Gamrat denied any involvement in the email, saying she has since seen only parts of it and finds it to be in poor taste.
"I did not author nor assist in sending the email in question," Gamrat told reporters. "I was unaware this email was sent and also of its content until a reporter pointed it out to me."
Courser and Gamrat, tea party favorites and avowed social conservatives, had shared office space and staff since taking office in January. Gamrat said that arrangement, which was designed to "eliminate redundancy and save taxpayer dollars," has ended. She called her current relationship with Courser "professional."
Rumors of their affair had been spreading around Lansing for months, and Gamrat said she had already been in marriage therapy with her husband. Her family has been great throughout the ordeal, she said, crying as she discussed her three children.
"They don't deserve what's come upon them," she said. "I take full responsibility, so I just want to thank them."
Abood, an attorney who Gamrat retained this week, said in a Friday morning radio interview that he expects the findings of the House probe to be "a lot less damning than what everybody has suggested."
Staffer Ben Graham, who recorded the conversations in which Courser asked him to send the email, ultimately declined to do so. He and Gamrat aide Keith Allard were fired in July. Another staffer, Josh Cline, quit working for Courser and Gamrat in April.
Gamrat acknowledged that a former staffer had been fired, but attributed the move to complaints from constituents. "Under no circumstances was anyone on my staff terminated because of a personal indiscretion on my part," Garmat said.
State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, whose 26th district covers Allegan County, responded to Gamrat's press conference and apology by reiterating her belief that both lawmakers should resign.
"I agree that everyone deserves forgiveness, but this isn't about forgiveness. This is about her ability to effectively do her job. And when you've lost the support of even your biggest supporters, it's time to step down," said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton.
"As long as Cindy and Todd remain in office they will be distractions from the real issues facing Michigan. Legislators should be fixing problems, not providing fodder for late-night talks show hosts. The soap opera has gotten too big, and as long as they remain in office the focus will be on them, not the issues."
Courser, in an audio statement and a series of social media posts, has made clear he has no intention to resign. He has alleged that a blackmailer threatened to expose the affair if he did not leave office, leading him to send the salacious email in May.
Gamrat, asked if she had been contacted by the alleged blackmailer, said she has forwarded any texts she has received to state police.
Josh Cline, a former staffer for both lawmakers, has scheduled his own press conference for Monday afternoon in Royal Oak.
I'm sure she'll eventually claim that Jesus personally granted her a mulligan and therefore the world has to forgive her.
Amy Schumer once did a sketch about what it would look like if a woman in politics was caught in a sex scandal and the husband had to stand there as a prop for the press conference.