Mich. lawmaker won't resign after fabricating male prostitute story
Posted: Aug 10, 2015 12:43 PM CST
(CBS News) LANSING, Mich. -- A Michigan lawmaker said he won't resign after sending an email to Republican supporters falsely claiming he was caught having sex with a male prostitute and said in a statement released Monday he was the target of a blackmail attempt.
The Detroit News, citing audio recordings, reported Friday that Rep. Todd Courser of Lapeer had someone send the email to distract attention from his alleged extramarital affair with another lawmaker.
\"My actions in and around these events in the email that was sent to misdirect attention were my doing both in planning and execution,\" Courser said in a nearly 30-minute audio file posted on his campaign website. \"No one else has the responsibility. ... They were mine and mine alone to carry.\"
It's unclear who actually sent the email.
The House Business Office reviewed email and personnel records over the weekend, the Detroit Free Press reported. The investigation is to determine whether Courser and GOP state Rep. Cindy Gamrat of Plainwell broke House rules or whether there's evidence of illegal behavior.
Gamrat hasn't commented.
In the audio statement released Monday, Courser apologizes to his family, his constituents and Gamrat's family. He blames former staffers for conspiring with others to bring him down and vowed to learn the identity of the alleged blackmailer.
The News obtained two recordings secretly made in May by a former aide of 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 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.
\"I need a controlled burn,\" Courser, a father of four children, said repeatedly throughout the conversation, according to CBS Detroit. \"I need it to be over the top.\"
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.
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 Republican, via Facebook, also thanked those who offered him support.
\"My wife and I have been working for several months to restore our relationship -- in marriage -- some marriages are easy and some are very hard for others -- along the way we have been to several counselors ... this have obviously brought out a lot of issues,\" said Courser.