The Slatest

Tea Party Michigan Legislator Tried to Concoct a False Flag Male Prostitute Scandal

Anti-gay marriage protesters gather in front of the Supreme Court on April 27, 2015, in Washington, D.C. Rep. Todd Courser shared some opinions with these folks. 

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

A state representative in Michigan has been caught on tape plotting to concoct a fake sex scandal with a fictional male prostitute to try to distract from a real relationship with a fellow Tea Party conservative representative, the Detroit News reported on Friday.

Michigan House Rep. Todd Courser was caught on tape giving instructions to an aide to send out an email under a false name describing Courser as a “bisexual porn addicted sexual deviant” who had been removed from the Republican caucus “due to male-on-male paid for sex.” The purpose of the email, a version of which was sent out the following two days after the tape-recorded conversation with aide Ben Graham, was apparently to pre-empt anticipated revelations by an unnamed third party about a relationship between Courser and Rep. Cindy Gamrat. The idea seemed to be that the false claims would look like a baseless personal attack, the incendiary nature of which would forestall real scandal.

More on the political backgrounds of Gamrat and Courser from the News:

The pair are socially conservative legislators who often invoke their Christian faith in pursuit of new legislation governing gun rights, abortion and marriage. Their political alliance dates back to Courser’s unsuccessful 2013 race for Michigan Republican Party chairman when Gamrat ran as his vice chairwoman.

But since being sworn into office in January, the self-described tea party “gladiators” have fought with Republican leaders. In an unusual move, Courser and Gamrat wrote a “liberty response” to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State address in January—the kind of retort that typically comes from Democrats.

In April, House Speaker Kevin Cotter kicked Gamrat out of Republican caucus meetings after she was caught leaking confidential discussions among GOP members. In one of his lengthy emails to people involved in Michigan politics, Courser called the House speaker a “bully” who was waging a “witch hunt” and who was “dead set against (Gamrat’s) efforts to advance liberty and freedom.”

Graham apparently took the recording without Courser’s knowledge. According to the News, here’s how Courser explained the logic of sending out the inflammatory email: “At that point, if they don’t have some really, really, really offensive stuff … it will be tough for them to bring it after this,” Courser said.

Graham gave the News a text message that shows him refusing the request and encouraging the representative to resign. Even in the end, Courser was invoking his faith to justify his actions to try to maintain his position. “God brought me here and had me here and maybe it hasn’t accomplished anything but I have to believe it has done some good [in spite] of me,” Courser texted. When Graham refused to help, Courser said he didn’t plan to resign and that “crucifixion is in order here so I’ll just keep praying on it.”

The News has published recordings of the audio conversation in which Courser maps out the email plan, and it is recommended listening. The tape shows a mindset that not only reaches for the ugliest homophobic language with ease, but also shows an incredible disdain for voters.

A few highlights:

  • At the 2:55 mark, Courser reads from the email that he planned to have sent to Republican activists: “‘Todd Courser caught on tape behind Lansing nightclub … he is a bisexual porn-addicted sexual deviant.’” Courser then explains “then you just get nasty about it” and continues reading from the fake email, saying “‘his cock was hanging out all over Lansing since the election, that is why he was thrown out of caucus.’” When challenged on the ridiculousness of the story, Courser says “I need it to be over-the-top.”
  • At the five-minute mark, he continues to read from the email and implores his aide to “work with me Benjamin.” In the rest of the prepared email, Courser refers to himself as a “‘gun-toting, bible-thumping, cock-sucking freak. …. [who] was accused of child molestation,’” adding, “’He has done things that should have him in jail.’” Courser then describes throwing in a portion about having seduced Gamrat.
  • At the 8:40 mark, Courser begins to guess what his opponents who have uncovered the relationship with Gamrat might have in terms of evidence and wonders “how far back” the evidence goes.