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If Courser and Gamrat won't resign, the House should expel them

Aug 24, 2015

I try not to write about sex for one reason. Not because I am squeamish. It’s just that sex is so powerful that whenever it’s injected into public life, it too often overshadows everything else.

The nation was obsessed with Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky for a good two years in the nineties, years in which many other national priorities didn’t get enough attention.

Now we have our own Todd and Cindy scandal in Lansing, and ever since the news of their bizarre affair and even more bizarre cover-up, they have dominated the news to an unhealthy degree. Both have said they won’t quit, even though they are pariahs in their own parties and without any influence whatsoever.

The House is conducting an investigation to see if they may have violated any rules or laws, and all this could drag on for weeks, costing further time, energy and money.

Meanwhile, every moment and news story spent reporting on them, is one more distraction from real issues, like, how are our lawmakers going to fix Medicaid funding and the roads?

But I think the solution to this mess was handed to lawmakers last Thursday night by two local Republican parties, those in Lapeer County, represented by Todd Courser and Allegan County, represented by Cindy Gamrat.

Both voted overwhelmingly to demand their representatives’ immediate resignations. In the case of Courser, the vote was just one short of unanimous. Lapeer Republicans also revoked his membership in their party and forbade him from distributing any literature at campaign events.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the party chair in Lapeer said their main concern was about the citizens being adequately represented. This was echoed by the Allegan party chair, who said of Gamrat: “The real issue is, can she give effective representation both in Allegan and Lansing?

“The overwhelming response I’ve heard is absolutely no.” By all accounts, neither of these representatives ever did much constituent service. They bizarrely merged their offices, and many in both districts claimed the staff was uninterested in helping them.

Various staff members said their whole operation was devoted to getting their bosses mentioned in the media, ideological posturing, and facilitating the relationship between the two.

Neither Gamrat nor Courser introduced a single bill that came anywhere close to becoming law. In Great Britain, when a ruling party loses a vote of confidence in Parliament, it is obligated to resign and call a national election. Courser and Gamrat have clearly lost the confidence of the people who sent them to Lansing.

Additionally, in the words of the Lapeer County GOP resolution condemning Courser, they have “brought dishonor and embarrassment to the people,” as well as to their political party.

They’ve lost the confidence of the citizens, and brought shame to the legislature. They’ve demonstrated an inability to do their jobs, and their continued presence is a draining distraction.

These are all more than enough grounds for the state house to do the right thing as soon as the session resumes next month:

Immediately vote to expel these two, so the governor can set a date for elections to give the people of their districts adequate representation, and the lawmakers can get on with their work.

All of us deserve no less.

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio's political analyst. Views expressed in his essays are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.