Ex-lawmakers Courser, Gamrat testify in bid to avoid charges

They lost their jobs over an office affair and a botched cover-up.

Now former state representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat are back in court charged with perjury and misconduct. But the ex-state lawmakers argue they shouldn't be facing prosecution at all.

Courser and Gamrat were in court thinking it would be a simple criminal preliminary exam, but it wasn't. They tried to convince the judge today that they cut a deal to avoid criminal prosecution.

It is unusual for defendants in a criminal case to take the stand, especially before a trial, but Courser and Gamrat did just that Wednesday in a Lansing District Court.

Prosecutor: "You're whole intent here was an attempt to get the legislature, the House to authorize a censure rather than an explulsion, am I correct on that?"

Courser: "That is correct."

Even before the preliminary exam into alleged criminal activity, Courser was trying to convince the judge he cut a deal with investigators from a State House Committee who are investigating Courser's sexual affair with Gamrat and the attempt to cover it up. 

Courser's belief is he would take a public censor, but be able to keep his seat in the house and

"To avoid criminal prosecution," he said.

However, only the prosecutor can bring or, agree not to bring criminal charges, not a House committee.

Ultimately criminal charges were brought against Courser.

"They were investigating me at that point for being the extortionist," Courser said.

Courser apparently did tell a House committee he committed misconduct in office when he admitted to House Investigators he had an affair with Gamrat in an attempt to keep his House Seat.

After that, the judge continued with the  preliminary examination into charges of misconduct in office and perjury for both Gamrat and Courser with a parade of ex-House workers.

A judge is going to decide whether Courser and Gamrat had deals with the House committee that would avoid any criminal prosecution. The judge said he would make a decision but only after the preliminary examination.

There may be criminal charges going forward.

Courser and Gamrat were investigated for improperly using staffers and tax dollars in the affair and its cover-up.