Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Former Michigan Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat.
From Courser/Gamrat websites

State representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat engaged in misconduct and misused taxpayer resources. State House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, says those are preliminary findings of a House Business Office investigation into a sex-and-cover-up scandal involving the lawmakers.


Cotter’s office says the full report will be made public after outside legal counsel has a chance to review it.


But Michigan Democratic Party Chair Brandon Dillon says the public shouldn’t have to wait.

Once again lawmakers are starting over as another road funding plan collapsed late last week in Lansing.

What really happened?

The latest effort to come up with more than a billion dollars for roads had pitted Republicans against Republicans. The GOP has a 63 to 46 advantage over Democrats in the state House, and a 27 to 11 margin in the state Senate. Those numbers led to the idea that GOP leaders could develop a Republican-only roads solution without having to deal with the Democrats.

Robbie Wroblewski / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The debate over county animal shelters using gas chambers to euthanize sick or unwanted animals is heating up in southwest Michigan.

In the beginning of 2015, only 4 of Michigan’s 83 counties still used the “inhalation method,” or “gas chamber” to kill unwanted animals at county animal control facilities.

Cass County, southwest of Kalamazoo, still uses a chamber. Branch County, south of Battle Creek, probably still would too, but its animal shelter burned down earlier this year.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s long-suffering firefighters are getting some much-needed new equipment.

The city unveiled five brand-new fire engines Friday. They’re part of a total ten new vehicles the department added to its fleet this month.

The rigs will go to five fire stations spread across the city, says Detroit fire commissioner Edsel Jenkins.

Kyle Mahan / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

There's another squabble between an anti-public-union group and the union that represents most of Michigan's teachers. 

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy actively encourages teachers to quit the Michigan Education Association. The group posts videos of teachers giving the reasons why they quit, and advising others to follow their example. 

Gregory Vadon / flickr

Another Republican presidential hopeful dropped in on the Detroit Economic Club Tuesday.

Florida senator Marco Rubio was the latest Republican candidate to address the Economic Club, which has already hosted Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Lapeer County politicians want Todd Courser's seat

Aug 20, 2015

Two Lapeer County politicians have announced they want Todd Courser's state House seat.

Ian Kempf and Gary Howell say they will run for the Republican nomination, whether it's the 2016 election or a special election. Jake Davison announced he would be challenging Todd Courser before The Detroit News revealed Courser was having an affair with fellow representative Cindy Gamrat and attempted to cover it up. 

Lansing Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Jennifer White spoke to Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, about legislative progress towards a roads funding package.

Sikkema says there hasn't been real progress made and Republicans have failed to identify the cuts they would make in the state budget to pay for road improvements. He also says he thinks Republicans need to be willing to make the cuts they identify, rather than leave them for a later legislature to handle.

Today on Stateside:

  • Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee is urging people to contact the Canadian Ministry of the Environment about a proposed nuclear waste storage facility near Lake Huron. 

  • There's less than a month to go before the clock runs out and contracts between the UAW and the Detroit Three automakers expire. Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes talks with us about the delicate balance that both sides are trying to pull off.

A campaign banner with a slogan derived from "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too," used in the 1840 U.S. presidential election.
user Pharos / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

When Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the White House, he did it to the tune of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.”

It didn’t take very long for Young to issue an icy statement declaring that Trump did not have permission to use the song, and that, “Neil Young, a Canadian citizen, is a supporter of Bernie Sanders for President of the United States.”

Rep. Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, and Rep. Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell, returned to the state capitol today.
images from Courser/Gamrat offices

The state House has taken an initial step toward disciplining two lawmakers caught up in a sex-and-cover-up scandal. The House adopted a resolution to create a special committee to “examine the qualifications” of state Representatives Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, and Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell.

The tea party-affiliated lawmakers face questions over whether they used public resources in a plot to cover up their extra-marital affair. 


Flint knows it has a problem with water leaks.  It just doesn't know how many, or where, the leaks are.

Spokesman Jason Lorenz says the city may be losing up to 30% of its water from leaks.

WFIU Public Radio / Creative Commons

Update, 11:05 p.m.:

The House adjourned late Wednesday night without a vote on a road funding deal after hours of negotiations. The House has adjourned until September.

Original post: 

State House Democrats want to protect Michigan’s prevailing wage law as part of a road funding deal.

Today on Stateside:

Yash Mori / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan Attorney Bill Schuette is endorsing Jeb Bush for president in 2016.

He announced on Wednesday that he’ll serve as chair for Bush’s campaign organization in Michigan.

There’s a hunger out there for Republicans to take back the White House and put the country on the right track,” Schuette told reporters on a conference call.

Michigan drivers have become all too familiar with the dreaded pothole.
flickr user Michael Gil / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

This Week in Michigan Politics, Michigan Radio’s senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry and Morning Edition host Christina Shockley discuss another road funding plan, proposed changes for medical marijuana cardholders, and body cameras.

Marijuana plant.

State lawmakers are considering taxing and tracking medical marijuana in Michigan.

Bill sponsors are expected to tack those and other changes onto bills that would create new protections for dispensaries and patients who use non-smokable forms of cannabis.

A state House panel on Tuesday also took up a new bill that would track cannabis from seed to sale.

Courtesy photo / Mary Whiteford

A small business owner and former ER nurse is hoping to unseat State Representative Cindy Gamrat.

Gamrat is at the center of a sex and cover-up scandal in Lansing.

Republican Mary Whiteford says she’s ready to run for Gamrat’s seat, whether she resigns or not. Gamrat has not resigned, but she’s not taken the option off the table either.

Today on Stateside:

Rep. Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, and Rep. Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell, returned to the state capitol today.
images from Courser/Gamrat offices

Representatives Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, and Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell, were due to return to the Capitol today for the first time since their affair was exposed – along with Courser's attempt to cover it up by conjuring up a phony gay sex scandal.

Bill McGraw / Bridge

by Bill McGraw

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is a disciplined speaker whose message rarely varies from the nitty-gritty ways he and his administration are repairing the wounded city they inherited: improving emergency response times, auctioning vacant homes, turning on streetlights, demolishing abandoned property, and trying to lower auto insurance rates.

Jake Neher / MPRN

A former staffer for embattled state representatives Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, and Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell, is speaking out against his former bosses.

Courser and Gamrat are accused of using public resources to cover up an affair. That includes attempting to involve their publicly-funded staff, which they shared at the time.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Making state lottery games available online has resulted in a disagreement between the state and a native tribe.

Twice a year the Gun Lake Tribe gives a big check to the state of Michigan. Last time, in December 2014, it was more than $7 million. The money comes from the tribe’s casino, just south of Grand Rapids.

Today on Stateside:

* Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry thinks the Courser-Gamrat scandal might just help move things along in the quest to find a way to fund road repairs.

* NASCAR fans made their way to the Michigan International Speedway for the Pure Michigan 400.

* A look at some of the worst political scandals in Michigan history.

* What’s at stake if we don’t get more diverse investors in Michigan? Our contributor for The Next Idea shares her thoughts.

* Data is helping determine who gets parole in Michigan, but are the factors being used fairly?

Gamrat's husband (left) stood by her side.
screen shot - LiveStream

The details of the affair between state Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat – along with Courser's attempt to cover things up with a fake gay sex scandal – have made national and worldwide headlines.

But the two tea party, conservative Christian lawmakers at the center of this scandal are just the latest in a long history of political scandals in the state.

Nancy Kaffer recently recounted some of the state’s historic scandals for The Detroit Free Press.

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

State lawmakers return this week from a month-long break with hopes of passing a new road funding plan.

Action on road funding has been stalled since July when lawmakers left Lansing for a month-long break. That’s after after the state House declined to take up legislation that was narrowly approved by the state Senate.

Cindy Gamrat speaking at an August 14, 2015 press conference.
screen shot - LiveStream

Update 5:32 pm:

Keith Allard, an aide shared by Reps. Courser and Gamrat, issued this response via Twitter: "I look forward to cooperating with any investigation to ensure that taxpayers are protected and faith in our institutions can be restored. Most important, an investigation will reveal the truth. There is absolutely no truth to the accusations against me by Mrs. Gamrat, as will be proven."

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
Michigan Radio

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the corruption conviction and 28-year prison sentence of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

In 2013, Kilpatrick was convicted of two dozen crimes, from tax evasion to bribery. A jury found that he rigged contracts, took bribes and committed other corrupt acts.

Kilpatrick's appeal centered on an alleged conflict among his trial attorneys, among other reasons.

State Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Wayne County Commission has approved the consent agreement with the state by a 14 to 1 vote. The consent agreement will require the county to make deep cuts in spending and address chronic issues in its jails. 

Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate majority leader and senior policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, joined Jennifer White to look more closely at how that consent agreement might work.


One of the key figures in a cover-up scandal that’s rocked the state Capitol is expected to speak out tomorrow.

State Representative Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell, has remained silent and out of public view since the scandal broke last week. House leaders are looking into allegations that she and state Representative Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, tried to force their office staffs to be part of a scheme to cover up their extra-marital affair. Both are vocal social conservatives and part of the tea party movement.