Breaking down the Courser-Gamrat saga

- It was history in the making, but a history nobody relished including the principals in all this. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat are now history as they adapt to their new label of former legislator and prepare for a state police investigation into their behavior.

Unless you've been on a different planet the last couple of days, you've heard that he resigned and she was expelled for their role in the Michigan legislative version of sex, lies and audio tapes.

For a grueling 28 days, the two dominated the news headlines as their personal and professional behavior was placed under the microscope and what the public and fellow legislators viewed was not very pretty.

With more twists and turns than a cheap dime store novel, the two eventually admitted to "misconduct and the misuse of state tax dollars."

But neither felt that rose to the level of being booted out. They pleaded for censure in front of a specially created house panel charged with making a recommendation on their future.

Last Thursday morning, four Republicans on the panel voted to oust them both. The two Democrats refused to vote in what was a precursor of the fun and games to come.

Once the resolutions got to the house floor and the voting began around 4:37 p.m. it was immediately clear the Rs did not have enough votes, 73, to remove them. About two dozen Democrats dug in, for what would turn out to be a long night and morning. They told the GOP they would not vote to expel because they were totally displeased with how the Republicans handled the probe.

The Democratic protests began two weeks ago when the GOP Speaker Kevin Cotter ordered the House Business Office to begin an investigation into the two, now, former colleagues.

Hold it, the Ds protested as they advanced the "fox guarding the hen house" argument. The HBO is under control of the Speaker and, while no one was accusing Mr. Cotter of any wrongdoing, if there was any, the Ds were not convinced it would be uncovered.

That was their story and they stuck to it while Mr. Cotter's office steadfastly denied any wrong doing.

The Ds were next upset when Mr. Cotter created a six-person committee, giving four votes to his side and two to the Ds. And the complaining continued in public as the Ds tried to get deeper into this whole affair but claimed they were often stymied by the majority party, a charge denied by the committee chair Rep. Ed McBroom.

The most pogiant example of that was the appearance of former Chief of Staff Norm Saari, whom the Democrats felt had some valuable inside skinny on what really happened. He had met with two former staffers who worked for Ms. Gamrat and Mr. Courser and were fired.

But before the Ds could ask Mr. Saari the old Watergate chestnut of "what did you know and when did you know" and in this case, "did you or did you not share this with the Speaker?" the GOP chairman moved to strike all of Mr. Saari's testimony from the record.

"Unprecedented," shouted the House Democratic leader Tim Greimel who was hinting all along at a possible cover-up. The state Democratic Party chair went even further suggesting the move was "designed for one purpose, to shield Speaker Cotter's office from scrutiny." Mr. McBroom denied that charge, too saying this has been done before.

All this came to a head when the voting began as the Ds refused to expel the two and Repbulicans refused to budge on allowing the state police and attorney general to takeover the investigation.

The minutes slowly ticked off into the night and into the wee small hours of Friday morning when word circulated that the Rs recanted and agreed to the independent probe clearing the way for Democrats to boot the two lawmakers.

Mr. Courser saw the handwriting on the wall and penned a handwritten "adios" statement and resigned at about 3:12 a.m.  "It's been hell," he told reporters.

One hour later, Ms. Gamrat refused to resigned and was expelled almost 12 hours after the debate commenced, thus closing a sorry chapter of state history that won't be replicated anytime soon. To which many in this town will whisper, "Amen."


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