Ridiculed Tea Party Pols Fire Back at Legislature

     GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (CN) — A pair of Tea Party Christians expelled from office on the heels of a bizarre sex scandal have hit back against the Michigan Legislature with a pair of federal complaints.
     Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat filed their suits in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan on Sept. 8, just over a year after their truncated political careers fueled a media circus.
     The conservative lawmakers were each married to other people but tendered their resignations in summer 2015 after reports emerged that they had been having an affair and misusing taxpayer resources to cover up the hanky-panky.
     Just last month, a federal judge advanced claims from Courser and Gamrat’s respective former legislative aides, Benjamin Graham and Keith Allard, over the scandal.
     Now Courser and Gamrat want damages for violations of their due-process rights.
     Courser’s 182-page action alleges a sweeping, extortionate conspiracy. In addition to his former chief of staff and Gamrat’s, Courser takes aim at Gamrat’s husband and 17 other individuals from various state office, media outlets, law enforcement and area hotels.
     “All of the defendants in this case, working in conjunction with one-another created a plan of extortion, perjury, illegal wiretapping, and other illegal conduct (including malicious prosecution) all for political power, retribution and personal gain,” the complaint states (parentheses in original).
     At just 10 pages, the lawsuit Gamrat filed pro se is modest by comparison. Courser wants $10 million in punitive damages; Gamrat is seeking $25,000.
     Gamrat denies that she misused public funds and says the reports to the contrary are defamatory. She says she was denied an opportunity to defend herself against allegations of misconduct or even review the 833-page report that the House of Representatives put out.
     Represented b Portage-based attorney Matthew DePerno, Course says he and Gamrat faced political retribution from the “progressive GOP establishment,” because of their opposition to “increasing taxes and growing government.”
     Rumors of Courser and Gamrat’s began to swirl soon after their swearing in when they took the odd move of combining legislative offices, but Courser says a paid political consultant conceived this idea to save the state money.
     House Speaker Kevin Cotter began a mission to “dig up dirt” on Courser, the complaint states, because he failed to fall in line with the Republican establishment.
     Cotter has not returned a Monday phone call seeking comment on the lawsuit.
     As for the ex-aides suing Courser and Gamrat, Courser attributes their termination to “poor work performance.”
     “On one occasion, Allard drew a pornographic cartoon during a staff meeting and intentionally left the very graphic cartoon for female staffers to find,” Courser’s complaint states.
     Alleging violations of federal anti-racketeering law among 22 causes of action, Courser’s lawsuit runs the gamut of civil rights claims, including conspiracy, emotional distress, invasion of privacy, identity theft, blackmail, misconduct in public office, false imprisonment, fraudulent misrepresentation and legal malpractice.
     “This lawsuit details the political corruption that exists in Kevin Cotter’s administration? and? the Attorney General’s Office and the pay-for-play politics that were used to remove Todd Courser without due process, using unconstitutional means and provisions, in order to pass the largest tax increase in Michigan history,” attorney DePerno said in a statement.
     According to the complaint filed last year against the former legislators, Gamrat instructed her and Courser’s chiefs of staff to conceal their whereabouts from her husband. The cover-up unraveled, according to the complaint, in a February 2015 confrontation with the cuckolded man at the Lansing Radisson Hotel.
     After the dust settled, Graham’s complaint says: “Cindy Gamrat and Courser were both late to the office that morning, appeared disheveled, and exhibited bizarre behavior. In particular, Cindy Gamrat smelled of alcohol.”
     The complaint also says Courser and Gamrat’s staffs wound up working “extensive hours on nights and weekends to make up for the lack of time Courser and Gamrat were putting in during actual work hours.”
     As rumors of the affair swirled in Lansing political circles, Courser asked Graham to send an anonymous email to constituents “accusing Courser of having sex with a male prostitute and being a drug abuser, among other things,” the complaint states.
     Graham says Courser called the email a “controlled burn to inoculate the herd if news of his actual extramarital affair with Gamrat ever broke.”
     Courser and Gamrat allegedly had Graham fired after the aide refused.
     Someone eventually did press send on the “male prostitute” email about Courser, but the bogus story did not protect the politicians.
     Each was charged with multiple counts of misconduct in public office, and Courser was charged with perjury, for the affair. Local news reports indicate that Gamrat’s charges have since been dismissed.

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