After a marathon voting session in the Michigan House of Representatives, two freshman representatives at the heart of a months-long scandal are no longer members of the state legislature.
Expulsion proceedings for Rep. Todd Courser (R–Lapeer) began late Thursday afternoon, and continued into the early hours of Friday morning after multiple Democrats didn’t vote on the resolution to expel, leaving GOP leadership several votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed for it to pass.
After 14 hours of debate and three unsuccessful voting sessions, around 3:12 a.m. Friday morning Courser chose to resign from the body.
“I hereby tender my resignation from the Michigan House of Representatives effective immediately,” his resignation letter read. “It has been an honor serving with the dedicated members and staff of the House of Representatives.”
Shortly afterwards, at 4 a.m. Friday morning, Rep. Cindy Gamrat (R–Plainwell) was expelled from the legislature in a 91-12 vote.
Gamrat did not talk to reporters after her expulsion, according to media reports.
Lieutenant Gov. Brian Calley announced Friday afternoon that a special election would be held March 8, 2016 to fill both Courser and Gamrat’s seats for the remainder of their terms, with a primary election for both on Nov. 3, 2015. Their terms originally extended through 2016.
The pair made national headlines in August when the Detroit News reported that the two had engaged in an affair, and had allegedly involved staff members in an attempt to cover it up.
Former staffers in the office alleged that Courser was responsible for an e-mail circulated to supporters claiming he had been caught behind a gay bar with a male prostitute, in an attempt to distract from the affair, and that he had asked a staffer to send it.
A subsequent investigation by the House Business Office into the issue turned up several instances of misuse of taxpayer resources, which both Gamrat and Courser admitted to and apologized for in committee hearings this week.
“The evidence demonstrates numerous instances of deceptive, deceitful and outright dishonest conduct by both representatives,” the report reads, citing the affair and the e-mail.
A separate investigation into the issue is also being conducted jointly by the Michigan State Police and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, according to a statement released by Schuette’s office Friday morning.
Gamrat is now the fourth state legislator to be expelled in state history.