Report: Lawmaker hoped to distract from affair with smear

LawmakerLANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan lawmaker had an email sent to his Republican supporters falsely claiming he had been caught having sex with a male prostitute, apparently believing such a smear campaign would help distract attention from an alleged extramarital affair between him and another lawmaker, a newspaper reported Friday.

The Detroit News (http://bit.ly/1T9vCvY ) obtained two recordings secretly made in May by a former aide of state Rep. Todd Courser, a tea party-backed social conservative from Lapeer. In the recordings, Courser asks the aide, Ben Graham, to email Republican activists and operatives from an anonymous account to create “a complete smear campaign” about him.

In the recordings, Courser tells Graham that he and state Rep. Cindy Gamrat, with whom he took the unusual step of combining office operations, received identical text messages about their relationship that day from an unknown number. Courser wonders aloud whether someone had pictures, video or audio recordings of him and Gamrat.

Neither Courser, a married father of four, nor Gamrat, a married mother of three, directly confirmed or denied having a sexual relationship during the recorded conversations. But they also didn’t dispute Graham’s characterization of their relationship as an extramarital affair, the newspaper reported.

Courser said the email he wanted Graham to send would “inoculate the herd” — an apparent reference to his and Gamrat’s supporters.

“It will make anything else that comes out after that — that isn’t a video — mundane, tame by comparison,” Courser told the aide.

Graham said when he refused to send the email, he was stripped of some of his duties before Courser fired him in early July. The sexually explicit email was received by Republicans on May 20 and 21, the two days following Courser’s recorded meeting with Graham. During the meeting, Courser reads aloud portions of a draft email. The newspaper said it’s unclear who actually sent it.