Remember the scandal that I reported about here in Michigan, involving State Rep. Todd Courser?
Well, there is more news about that. The story via The Detroit News:
State Rep. Todd Courser claimed Monday he distributed a story accusing himself of paying a male prostitute for sex to “expose” individuals trying to blackmail him into resigning office over a relationship with Rep. Cindy Gamrat.
In his first response to The Detroit News’ story Friday exposing Courser’s role in the email, Courser claimed his former aides Ben Graham, Keith Allard and Joshua Cline were behind the anonymous text messages he received, threatening to expose his relationship with Gamrat, a fellow Republican from Plainwell.
“The email in question was really put in motion to disrupt, disrupt the blackmailer and to give me some clues as to what their ability was as far as surveillance over my life and the threats they were making,” Courser said in an audio recording released early Monday morning.
Courser accuses Graham, 25, of being part of the blackmail plot. In May, Graham refused to send the email for Courser. Weeks later, Courser gave Graham a 6 percent pay raise, state records show. On July 7, Courser fired Graham without explanation.
“The blackmailer’s still operating, goading me,” Courser said on the audio recording. “So I’m not sure how big the ring still is, but they’re still out there and still anonymous.”
Courser accused Graham, Allard and Cline of being “ill-suited” for legislative work and claimed they “bugged and then wiretapped” the combined House office he and Gamrat ran — an unusual arrangement at the Capitol — at the behest of Speaker Kevin Cotter.
“There’s obvious malice and hostility and anger about being let go, and they’re bonded together with that and moved to extract their revenge in the way that they did,” Courser said.
Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant, said Monday Courser’s claims of a House-led bugging operation of he and Gamrat’s office are “just ludicrous.”
“He’s really displayed a long and consistent pattern of that type of paranoia,” Cotter told The News. “There are no black helicopters here; no drones circling the House Office Building.”
Ike, for his part, is denying all involvement:
Lansing — State Rep. Todd Courser told an aide that he had a longtime friend and business associate send Republicans an email falsely claiming the lawmaker was caught having sex with a male prostitute, audio recordings show.
The email, which Courser first ordered a staff member to send out, was sent as part of a scheme to conceal the lawmaker’s relationship with Rep. Cindy Gamrat.
But Immanuel “Ike” Eickholdt, the man Courser says sent it, denied any involvement in distribution of the email in an interview with The Detroit News. Rank-and-file Republicans received the message May 20 and May 21 from an anonymous sender.
Former Courser and Gamrat aides confirmed to The News that the “Ike” mentioned by Courser during two recorded meetings is Eickholdt, who ran in a Democratic primary last year against Courser’s eventual general election opponent, Margaret Guerrero DeLuca.
In a telephone interview, Eickholdt acknowledged being a “friend and business associate” of Courser’s for a decade, but denied sending the email or having any knowledge of it.
“I did not send an email thing out,” Eickholdt told The News. “Whatever nonsense they’ve got going on, I don’t deal with that kind of stuff anymore.”
Either way, State House officials are not buying the story and are working to get to the bottom of what really happened:
State House officials have seized computers and paper records from the offices of Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat as part of an investigation into whether they used taxpayer resources to conceal their relationship, Speaker Kevin Cotter said Monday.
“All of the evidence is protected,” Cotter told The Detroit News. “Nothing can be deleted. We have the servers. We have all of these things. So there’s nothing that’s at risk of being lost at this point.”
Employees in the House Business Office began taking possession of documents, laptop computers and servers containing Courser and Gamrat’s state email accounts on Friday and continued over the weekend, Cotter said.
Cotter ordered an investigation into Courser and Gamrat just hours afterThe Detroit News first revealed Friday that Courser sought the help of a House employee to distribute a fictitious email alleging he had a homosexual affair in order to make allegations of an affair with Gamrat look tame by comparison.
Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant, said the House’s computer servers preserved all electronic records in Courser’s and Gamrat’s systems.
“If either of the representatives, or anyone for that matter, had gone immediately with this story and tried to delete things, that information was not lost,” Cotter told The News. “We have a system in place whereby if even a user deletes an email, that those are still retained. So nothing was at risk of loss.”
It should be very interesting to see how all of that plays out, for his part, Rep. Todd Courser says he is not going anywhere:
Courser, a tea party conservative who has battled Republican leaders since being elected to office last year, said in the recording he would not resign as representative of the 82nd District in Lapeer County.
“I could have resigned, this is really the option that anonymous texter wanted, and doing so quietly,” Courser said. “I simply would have been submitting to the authority of the establishment machine and doing so to protect myself and protect my family.
“… I felt that in of itself really allowed them to win and continue to do this in the way that they do in finding the screw and the thing that they can turn and turning it,” Courser added.
Courser said remaining in office is “absolutely essential” to advance the cause of smaller government.
“I feel it is absolutely, absolutely essential to have these clandestine operations to control public officials exposed,” Courser said. “So I refuse to leave quietly and have decided to that these efforts really need to come out.”
What a freakin’ dope.