Friday, August 21, 2015

Gamrat Dishonors Our Community

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.
voted for Cindy Gamrat. One area GOP leader said two "sensible Republicans" were in the four-person primary field that included Gamrat. I voted for one of them. Gamrat also didn't get my vote in the general election, but that mattered not, because this district is very conservative, and the Republican nominee always wins local elections.

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 Lansing 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.

(On Sept. 10, Courser resigned from the Michigan House of representatives while votes were being taken on expelling him. A short time later, the House voted to expel Gamrat. Both decided to run in Nov. 3 special elections to fill their seats, stating "let the voters decide." The voters did. Gamrat finished third with less that 10 percent of the vote; Courser did even worse finishing behind a bevy of opponents with about 3 percent of the vote )


Rummuser said...

Our politicos here do no less philandering and nobody bothers. It is expected that they would.

Dick Klade said...

Interesting, Ramana. Somehow I was under the impression that politics in India would be pretty clean. Perhaps from viewing too many politicians wearing white jackets?

PiedType said...

Sorry to hear these fine, upstanding politicians are from your neck of the woods. But even with the nationwide notoriety they've attracted, I doubt either will resign. As I recall, few philandering politicians do. (It's their private life, doncha know. Has nothing to do with their professional abilities ... yada, yada)

Anonymous said...

After Clinton and his sordid affairs, nothing shocks me anymore, unless it's the prurient interest of the public and the news hungry media.

Bob Swicker said...

They are both consenting adults so their affair should get a ho-hum reaction. However. They both ran on the fact the were more moral than the rest of us. They are against gay rights for"religious" reasons. Have they read the Bible about lying? They both should resign.

Dick Klade said...

I agree, Bob. In most similar situations I would say what they do in their personal life should not be a factor in their job performance. Here, because they adopted a "holier than thou" stance, they ought to pay a penalty for not keeping their own faith. Also, there is a possibility in this case that they committed a felony by telling staffers who are state employees to spend time assisting in the cover up. That is under investigation.

Jhawk 23 said...

Funny, how these political sex scandals seem always to progress along exactly the same path of denial, deception, cover-up, etc. -- whether it's a President or a puny city council member. I guess politicians, somewhere in the reptilian part of their brains, realize that it's at odds with their professions of morality and could endanger their political future (even if they don't resign).

Dick Klade said...

There does seem to be a pattern. However, I was diligently defending Clinton up to the minute he got on national TV and lied to the American people. That was bad strategy, I think. Fessing up and apologizing would have been better. But that is not working for Gamrat in our local case, so a pattern exists, but it seems to vary somewhat case-by-case.

joared said...

Aren't these stories so repetitive -- only the names changes and some of the sordid specifics. Probably, the most galling to all of us are the ones involving those who shout the loudest about family values and God, or so it often seems. I agree, family members of those in headlines are generally so undeserving of the pain foisted on them.

Anonymous said...

This fellow has nothing on the former Governor of Oregon, John Kitzhaber a 68 year old yahooooo who is engaged (will never marry her) Cylvia Hayes who took him and money from the state of Oregon! He resigned earlier this year and gave it up for this dame,I got another word for her but cannot print it on a website..He was a 3rd term elected Governor he did not care about the citizens of Oregon, a big kibosh over the Obama care act and now they have subpoenaed e-mails from Ms. Hayes..He resigned in disgrace, the term there is no fool like an old food is apt for this fellow..My hubs of nearly 42 years will turn 68 near Halloween, he would be packing it out the door with a tiny paper bag if he told me the crap that former Gov. Kitzhaber did..He even has a wonderful son Logan who is 18 who will eventually know what his dad did with his life, a life long Oregonian and a 25 year E/R Physician at that and wonderful at that, he has saved many lives when he was the governor of Oregon when he would be talking and someone in the audience had a near fatal heart attack and he would revive him, he should have stuck to Emergency Medicine he is retired now with a PERS pension and lots of money to throw at the greedy fiancé he has, of course she is only48 and he is 68 and married 2 other times, he won't be marrying this gal..I say politics turns decent people into crooks and just plain yahoooos I have seen it a lot..Why can't people understand that human beings go batcrapcrazy when they get the taste of power and money..The new governor of Oregon is Kate Brown a bisexual human being married for many years to a wonderful person, she is open and proud, she doesn't do naughty things well she is just in office but has served the people of Oregon for a good long time..Too bad the former Governor could not keep his longings for a woman to himself and not cloud his judgement but that is what happens when power, money and greed and a young thing comes around to a single good looking fellow who is lonely..oh, my goodness sakes!~!!!!!!!!!!!