“This is silly,” Gideon D’Assandro, press secretary for Michigan House Speaker Kevin Cotter, said as he brushed off the news of former Rep. Todd Courser’s lawsuit against Cotter and several others the former lawmaker believes were involved in a conspiracy to get him out of office.
“Todd seems bored,” D’Assandro added. “He should get a hobby, or maybe a new girlfriend.”
Nothing could be further from the truth, according to Courser’s attorney Matthew DePerno.
“A lot of people can say he made some mistakes and did things he shouldn’t have done,” DePerno told MLive. “But through that process, we have uncovered, I think, a real story of the political corruption of pay-to-play politics.”
Courser resigned from the Michigan House, and Rep. Cindy Gamrat was expelled, because of allegations the Republicans committed misconduct in covering up their extramarital affair and engaging in their love tryst on the taxpayers’ dollar.
District Judge Hugh Clarke Jr. ruled in June that there was not enough evidence to press a felony misconduct charge against Gamrat. But the Associated Press reported Clarke said the case against Courser, which includes a perjury charge and a charge of misconduct in office, should proceed.
“And we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law in circuit court,” Michigan Attorney General’s Office spokeswoman Andrea Bitely told WOOD-TV.
Gamrat has responded a year after her September 2015 ouster with a 10-page lawsuit claiming she was the victim of due-process violations and defamation.
But Courser has thrown all the spaghetti against the wall with a 182-page filing. He claims selective enforcement of laws, violations of racketeering laws, false imprisonment, conspiracy, extortion, illegal wiretapping, invasion of privacy, misconduct in office, misuses of office and other violations of state and federal laws were all part of a massive conspiracy to force him out of office.
Courser’s $160 million suit claims defendants “constructively, illegally, and unconstitutionally expelled Courser from The House by forcing him to resign his office.”
He wants at least $1 million from each of the defendants and another $10 million for each of the 16 complaints in the lawsuit.
Not only does Courser name the Michigan House and its members as conspirators, but Courser also identifies three Michigan State Police troopers and Michigan Attorney General William Schuette as co-conspirators.
The state police detectives and Schuette “completed the conspiracy when they illegally, unethically, and unconstitutionally charged Courser with crimes, while not charging others with same or similar crimes (they) knew about, for the purpose of insulating and covering up the behavior of all defendants,” in the words of the lawsuit.
Even the Detroit News is listed as being a co-conspirator. Two former legislative aides gave the paper a recording of a meeting during which, Graham testified, Courser ordered the dissemination of email with outrageous claims against him released to “inoculate the herd.”
PJM reported in Aug. 2015 that Courser claimed the audio recording was pure subterfuge.
Courser said he was not trying to keep the story of his affair with Gamrat from going public as much as he was trying to trick people blackmailing him into revealing themselves and the extent of their operation.
Courser and Gamrat, both freshmen in Michigan’s state House, had a relatively short history of co-sponsoring each other’s favorite legislation that always centered on preserving Christian family values and blasting the possibility of legalizing same-sex marriage.
Courser said he had already come clean to his wife about the affair before the Detroit News’ exclusive story about the email telling the false story of his meeting with a male prostitute, which led to a House Business Office investigation.
House Speaker Cotter said the investigation uncovered “deceptive, deceitful, and outright dishonest conduct” by Courser and Gamrat. A month later, both Republicans were gone. Courser would up resigning an hour before Gamrat was ousted from office.
Courser admitted the attempt to fool the blackmailer was “over the top and wrong.” But he thinks it was also understandable because it was “done in a pressure cooker that put me in a situation where a bad choice was the choice that I made.”
“Listening to the tape I don’t even recognize my own self and can’t say that the tape has not been altered,” Courser said. “I was running on days and weeks with no food. I was simply on auto pilot.”
The two aides who released the recording to the Detroit News, Keith Allard and Benjamin Graham, are listed as co-conspirators in Courser’s lawsuit. Allard and Graham have also filed their own suits against the Michigan House and its members.
Courser also claims he and Gamrat displeased Michigan’s “Progressive GOP Establishment” not because they were lovers behind closed motel room doors, but because they were such “strong conservative advocates.”
Courser did incur the wrath of the Republican elite by opposing tax increases, which included the 2015 statewide proposal backed by Gov. Rick Snyder (R) that included a sales tax increase and a road funding plan.
Cotter told Michigan Public Radio that it was “unfortunate that Mr. Courser hasn’t moved on with his life” and said the lawsuit was “like a bad dream that won’t go away.”
Courser’s attorney, Matthew DePerno, said the real story behind the lawsuit is not the affair his client had with Gamrat, or whatever the Tea Party favorite might have done to either cover up his indiscretions or bring down the powerful in Lansing.
“This lawsuit exposes the pay-for-play political corruption that exists in Kevin Cotter’s House of Representatives, to Bill Schuette’s Attorney General’s Office, and even extends to Gov. (Rick) Snyder,” DePerno said.
However, Courser has also admitted, “It was not my finest moment.”