LANSING, MICH. (WLNS)— Former State Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat appeared in district court today for their preliminary examination.
First to testify, Courser’s former legislative director, Joshua Cline, who claims Courser directed him to get bills in as quickly as possible.
“If you’re submitting it first, that’s the person who’s going to be getting the most, shall I say, attention from the bill,” said Cline, explaining the advantage to moving fast.
That initial submission is called a “blue back,” an original bill copy to be signed—only by the sponsors. But Cline says he signed on Courser and Gamrat’s behalf, after offering alternative solutions.
“We can bring the bills to you… You can sign them on that Tuesday, when you get into the office. He was like ‘No I want them in as fast as possible. You just gotta get that done.'”
Cline admits Gamrat never told him explicitly to sign the pending legislation, but he claims she agreed to Courser’s no-questions-asked urgency.
Then, another aide, Benjamin Graham, took the stand.
“Ben… I need you to destroy me,” Graham testified.
Graham says Courser relayed this over the phone on a May evening last year.
Then, Graham went over to Courser’s law office, recording the entire conversation.
But the defense argued another staffer, Keith Allard, directed Graham to make the recording, questioning Graham’s consent to the recording. Such an argument could lead to the recording being ruled inadmissible as evidence. But it might have been a stretch.
“He said he talked to Mr. Allard, that he was concerned about frankly the state of mind of your client. That he knew that your client kept a loaded hand gun at his office, and that Mr. Allard was kind of like watch yourself or be careful when you go,” pointed out Ingham County District Judge Hugh Clarke, Jr.
Graham says in that recorded meeting Courser wanted an email sent to Republicans statewide as a character assassination cover up, trying to divert attention from his affair with Gamrat.
Before these proceedings, both defendants gave testimony saying when initial hearings at the Capitol took place, they believed their statements would be used for censures-only.
Both claim they weren’t aware their statements could lead to expulsion or criminal prosecution.
Judge Clarke, Jr., did not rule on the censure issue, instead moving directly to the preliminary exam.
That hearing resumes tomorrow morning. We’ll be there and we’ll be here for you with updates as soon as we have them.