Plainwell, a small city (pop. 3,900) in southwestern
Michigan, has a new claim
to fame. News of a sex scandal involving the area's representative in the state
legislature has spread to the major television networks, been mocked on
late-night comedy shows, and circulated to all manner of media by the Associated Press. Reuters is
carrying the story, so it may even have reached foreign shores.
I was much more content when Plainwell's claims to fame were servings of great treats at the Plainwell Ice Cream Company and a history of papermaking at a giant mill now mostly decomposing in the center of town after shutting down about 15 years ago.
My inclination has been to let the scandal play out without comment here. Several investigations are under way to determine if laws as well as moral principles have been violated. However, a few folks have poked fun in my direction because of the situation. A couple of things need clarification.
It is true that Cindy Gamrat, the female partner in the sordid affair, is a neighbor. News stories correctly identify her as "R-Plainwell," and we both have Plainwell mailing addresses. We actually live about 5 miles east of town in a community of some 450 families. Although Gamrat resides on the edge of my neighborhood, we have never met.
My silence regarding the now infamous representative should not be construed as support. Usually, I consider voting a very private matter, but I'll make a small exception in this case. I have never
|Courser and Gamrat need to resign.|
Gamrat moved to our neighborhood from
Indiana about four years ago. She became the
founder and leader of the Plainwell Patriots Tea Party. She and another
first-term legislator, Todd Courser, upon arriving in Lansing took the unusual step of sharing office space and staffs. They now
admit to sharing a lot more.
So what? Sexual transgressions involving politicians, some of them prominent (Bill Clinton comes to mind), seem so routine that news of another one usually gets ho-hum reactions.
One respected local newspaper columnist addressed the question by producing statistics indicating affairs involving female legislators are much less common than those of males. The counter argument that there are many more men than women holding office doesn't hold up. Correcting for that, it appears to be a fact that far fewer women politicos than men go astray, or at least fewer get caught.. That truth helps make the Gamrat-Courser affair unusual, and that makes it newsy.
More unusual is Courser's bizarre attempt to create a cover story. One of his staff recorded Courser discussing the whole thing. The tape was given to the Detroit Free Press, which broke the story. Courser arranged to have an e-mail sent to Republican leaders in
stating that he was an habitual drug user who had been caught having sex with a male
prostitute. That was supposed to create such a sensation that revelations about
the Gamrat-Courser affair would be dismissed or discounted.
Another major factor in turning a minor
Michigan affair into national news is that
the participants are outspoken social conservatives who do not hesitate to
bring up their dedication to "family values" and hurl God bombs
around at will. Both are married. Gamrat has three children (she home schooled them), Courser has four children.
Courser has said he won't resign because God hasn't told him to do so.
There are many other strange quirks to this story, including Gamrat being thrown out of the Republican caucus for breaking its rules. If you like to delve into political-sexual intrigue, do a computer search and you'll find all sorts of interesting stuff.
If you study the matter, you probably won't wind up feeling sorry for Gamrat or Courser, only their families. They clearly have not been star-crossed lovers caring intensely only for each other. In one of his cover-up statements, Courser called Gamrat "a tramp." Gamrat stood beside her husband while making a tearful public confession about the affair, and never mentioned Courser by name.
Six of seven top Republican leaders in our county have called for Gamrat's resignation. Michigan Tea Party leaders have demanded that both Gamrat and Courser resign. The Mayor of Plainwell said Gamrat has made a mockery of her role in government, and "needs to go away." I agree.