Can Two Wrongs Make a Right?
Recall by constituents would have been a more appropriate option in the Todd and Cindy debacle.
In the hours leading up to what finally happened, deals were likely made that will hardly resonate later as good policy decisions. “get your merry caucus of non voting dems to do their job, and I’ll make sure you get …,” the highly probable statement from house speaker Kevin Cotter to house minority leader Tim Greimel. Greimel apparently held out for the ‘investigation’ carrot as well. Democrat Floor Leader Singh implied this after Roll Call 295, when he motioned to send the entire matter back to committee.
The House Democrats wanted – and got – more than just a couple of scalps. Their blackmail was effective because all of our representatives were bone tired after 13 plus hours of ‘Rule 32’ imprisonment and ready to go home for the weekend. A Michigan State Police investigation of this sorry situation will almost certainly embarrass House leadership far more than the behaviors of Representatives Courser and Gamrat. They made mistakes, but weren’t sufficiently connected or protected politically to extract themselves once exposed.
Apologies NOT accepted.
Gamrat believed she and her lawyer and all involved understood that it would be ‘censure, not expulsion’ if she prostrated herself in a very public mea culpa. Three hours of intense discussions between her, the House Majority counsel, and her own attorney fleshed out what she considered conditional admittance. According to Gamrat, Hassan Beydoun, Majority Counsel, told her “we can control our side ..” when sealing the ostensible censure deal.
Gamrat says the House leadership did not want to go all the way through removal. Leadership did not want to own an expulsion, which would encourage voters to examine other Lansing shenanigans. Approached multiple times by different legislators and implored to resign, Cindy Gamrat refused. She says the pressure was beyond intense. Gamrat’s resolve held all the way out to 4 AM when it became clear that the House leadership could not, or would not ‘control their side’.
Beydoun, the voice of the speaker in those ‘negotiations’ telling her they “would come at her with both barrels, and it would be ugly” if she did not sign off on the seriously flawed 800 page report, and admit full culpability. Admitting such things was a way to censure instead of expulsion; a bitter pill to swallow itself but also implied by Representative McBroom, though a little shorter on the appearance of a ‘promise’ aspect.
Leadership operatives kept throwing out the ‘censure’ option for her, and the expulsion word for Todd. Should anyone be surprised that she expected censure and didn’t resign? It didn’t happen that way, and the plan to remove her was played brilliantly (acknowledged by Cindy herself) as her removal seemed ultimately the house leader’s goal.
One might easily imagine her disillusionment with the political games in Lansing; disillusionment which was already intense before this final act. Gamrat occasionally sided with Democrats and often found herself standing alone with Courser on particular votes. She was frequently reminded that she was not a ‘team player’ by Lansing Republicans. She was told multiple times “You’re not a member of the team” because she stood apart from the legislative priorities of the leadership. Her answer was always “My team is my district.”
And she was correct.
Not playing along with the abusive machine in Lansing generated a lot of bad publicity, but she and Courser were very much representing their constituents in their official acts. For that they were pilloried; and when the opportunity arose, ultimately removed.
Their constituents may or may not have wanted Todd and Cindy removed. But we will never know because of the 2012 change in Michigan’s recall law. Now constituents cannot express their displeasure in any meaningful action. The unfettered power of Lansing insiders to coerce and blackmail is now breathtaking. This is power abrogated from Representatives’ and Senators’ constituents. It is a power exercised without due process or consistency. How else could one explain an indicted State Senator continuing in office, while two Representatives without any such legal impairment are summarily expelled?
Should Michigan Government Be Under the Exclusive Control of One Party?
Going forward, we can only hope for more information on what exactly lead up to the wee hours this morning. We know the salacious bits of Courser and Gamrat’s personal mistakes, but we know little of the House leadership response. A little disinfecting sunshine might ensure a more honest process in the future. It is not going to come from FOIA requests; that dog’s been shot. One party control of all three branches ensures little comfort for those who have had clearly legitimate concerns spit out like bad milk.
Indeed it may be an embarrassment of riches.
Yet hardly deserved.