Reporter who broke Courser/Gamrat story calls details "unbelievable"
It was the story that stunned Detroit News readers.
Recordings were published Friday that indicated State Rep. Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, had sent out a phony email last May alleging he paid for gay sex behind a Lansing bar. The email was meant to provide what he called a "controlled burn," to direct attention away from an extramarital affair with fellow State Rep. Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell.
This morning Courser published a 27 minute response to the story. In it he says:
My actions in and around these events and the email that was sent to misdirect attention were my doing both in planning and execution. No one else has the responsibility in those actions, they are mine and mine alone to carry," followed by apologies to his family, Representative Gamrat, and her family.
He indicates that right now his focus is on asking for forgiveness from God.
The Detroit News' Chad Livengood broke the story and describes it as "unbelievable," but as he verified everything he says "the evidence started mounting."
Courser has made a name for himself by often opposing even other Republicans.
Nancy Derringer profiled Courser for Bridge Magazine last April.
"As my story points out, he comes into town and he immediately starts throwing fits over things that shouldn't even be headaches. The seat assignment. The furniture in his office -- little procedural stuff," she says.
And Livengood describes Courser as "theatrical if anything."
Derringer says she wasn't surprised to find about about the affair because rumors surrounding the two representatives had been around for some time, but she was shocked by the email they tried to create to cover or detract from it.
In his response, Courser says the email in question was an attempt to expose the blackmailer and provide an idea as to what their surveillance ability was.
Livengood says that Courser believes the blackmailer was trying to force himself and Gamrat into resignation.
"We find no evidence that he has actually been to the police to report this blackmailer or that he is the victim of some kind of a conspiracy."
At the end of his response, Courser adds a piece of audio that sounds as if it was taped at a different time. It provides the number of the blackmailer and urges anyone who is interested to help track them down.
But Livengood says the News has looked into the blackmail allegations.
"We find no evidence that he has actually been to the police to report this blackmailer or that he is the victim of some kind of a conspiracy," Livengood says.
The House Business Office has seized Courser and Gamrat's emails and files to determine whether there was a misuse of taxpayer resources.
"At this point it's hard to tell whether there's anything criminal here," Livengood says. The House Business Office is conducting an investigation.
Last week, Livengood made an attempt to speak to Gamrat about the allegations but she refused to comment.