RALEIGH – N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore has had his work cut out for him this year, attempting to bring order to a sometimes-unruly House caucus while the political class in Raleigh discusses the high drama of a long-overdue budget, teachers assistants and driver’s ed. But at least he can be grateful that he is not in the shoes of his counterpart in Michigan, Speaker of the House Kevin Cotter. While Speaker Moore may be in for some late nights to carry the budget across the goal line soon, Speaker Cotter has spent the past month presiding over the fallout from a sex and cover-up scandal, a mess that culminated in a 14-hour session gaveled out at 4 a.m. Friday following the resignation of Rep. Todd Courser and the expulsion of Rep. Cindy Gamrat.
Courser and Gamrat have admitted to having an affair with each other, and the sordid story is replete with blackmail text messages from an unknown person’s “burner” cell phone and a phony, “false-flag” email (penned by Courser himself) that accused him of being a drug- and porn-addicted reprobate who paid men for sex outside local bars. The email, which Courser’s staff refused to send, was intended to draw attention away from the true parts of the scandal by making it look like part of an outrageous dirty-tricks campaign against him.
The Detroit News initially broke the story in early August when it reported on audio recordings of Courser and Gamrat apparently discussing the cover-up plan and the phony email. Speaker Cotter, who had often battled with Courser and Gamrat over policy issues, initiated an investigation into the affair and cover-up. Courser and Gamrat are both socially conservative Republicans and both (currently) married with children. In hearings before the special committee that Cotter set up, both admitted the affair and misuse of their staff, but both apparently thought they could avoid expulsion and merely be censured by the House.
That deal, if there ever was one, fell apart Thursday on the floor, where Democrats refused to join Republicans in voting for expulsion until a provision requesting an investigation by law enforcement was added to the expulsion resolution. When the provision was added, Courser resigned; Gamrat refused to resign and was expelled by a 91-12 vote after 4 a.m.