Removing The People’s Voice

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’.

Liars lie.

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.

You Betcha! (47)Nuh Uh.(7)

  15 comments for “Removing The People’s Voice

  1. Bella Abzug
    September 12, 2015 at 8:05 am

    Why put voters through a recall, and waste taxpayer money on an empty exercise? These two didn't "make a mistake"." Through a whole series of deceptive, self serving acts, they revealed that their characters are defective.

    You Betcha! (8)Nuh Uh.(10)
    • Kevin Rex Heine
      September 12, 2015 at 12:45 pm

      There's a reason that the editorial staff lets such silliness though in the comment section, specifically so that we thinkers can systematically shred such logical stupidity.

      For starters, "Bella," what makes you think that a special election to fill a vacancy will be any less expensive than a recall election? In the case of a recall, it's at least the relevant constituency exercising their option under Article II § 8 of the Michigan Constitution to express their displeasure and seek recourse. Even though the short-sighted 2012 changes to Michigan Election Law, Chapter XXXVI (Recall), watered down the option (in the name of protecting the legislators' nobilities), at least it's still the voters' option to exercise.

      Now, the voters don't even have that option, as the requirement for a special election has been forced upon them, and the cost of that election has been forced upon the two affected counties . . . whether they like it or not. In a 16-hour marathon session, two elections, including the votes of 33,331 electors, have been nullified by 91 legislators acting on behalf of the Michigan Banana Republican Aristocracy by playing a "second-rate game of whack-a-mole."

      According to the Detroit Free Press, the Nerd Crown Prince yesterday announced that the special primary election to fill the vacancies will be held on November 3rd, and the subsequent special general election will be held on March 8th. This gives potential candidates until next Friday to file, which means that only those candidates already organized have any chance to get into the pool. (Just in case you needed any additional evidence that this was rigged in advance.)

      How is any of this less toxic to the republic than Todd's and Cindy's indiscretions?

      You Betcha! (12)Nuh Uh.(4)
    • 10x25MM
      September 13, 2015 at 6:05 am

      Article IV, Section 16 of the 1963 Michigan Constitution does not mention 'defective character' as grounds for expulsion, only 'qualifications':

      Each house, except as otherwise provided in this constitution, shall choose its own officers and determine the rules of its proceedings, but shall not adopt any rule that will prevent a majority of the members elected thereto and serving therein from discharging a committee from the further consideration of any measure. Each house shall be the sole judge of the qualifications, elections and returns of its members, and may, with the concurrence of two-thirds of all the members elected thereto and serving therein, expel a member. The reasons for such expulsion shall be entered in the journal, with the votes and names of the members voting upon the question. No member shall be expelled a second time for the same cause.

      The fundamental issue here is due process, specifically equality before the law. How does the Michigan House justify expelling two members whose actions have not been found - thus far - to be illegal or subject to legal process while allowing another member to serve despite being a current defendant in a lawsuit alleging criminal sexual acts and having an eight felony record? There is also a State Senator serving despite being under indictment for a series of felonies.

      'Defective character' is a sufficiently abstract concept that it should only be a subject for constituents to decide through the recall mechanism. Allowing the Legislature to establish 'defective character' grounds for expulsion independent of legal process creates a political weapon which can be wielded for ideological purification against the wishes of voters. An extremely dangerous precedent which ends the tradition of the Michigan Legislature as a representative body.

      As a voter in the 80th Michigan House District, I resent the Legislature arrogating our District's collective right to determine the 'character' of our Representative. Not certain that Ms. Gamrat would have survived a recall election - but it was our decision, not the Legislature's.

      Knew the late Congresswoman Abzug well when I was a child. She was a crashing boor, even for a New Yorker. 'Defective character' if there ever was such.

      You Betcha! (9)Nuh Uh.(1)
  2. Mark
    September 12, 2015 at 8:34 am

    It seems to me that regardless of what might have been, these two put themselves in the position that led to their expulsion. Rick Snyder has satisfied me over and over again that he is a mean spirited selfish little bastard who does not care one whit what we the people think about things like taxes and the performance of entities contracted to the state.
    These two should have known that, because they hit the floor with a bang as it were, that they would be under close scrutiny. At a time when the destroyers of our nation are working hard to eliminate things like the Constitution, on the state level they have achieved a potential opening to take the state back and move its destruction well along the way.

    You Betcha! (9)Nuh Uh.(0)
  3. Sue Schwartz
    September 12, 2015 at 8:41 am

    If I were Cindy, I'd run for the office I was just expelled from. Throw all this crap back in their faces. It's disgusting to see that they wait until the wee hours of the morning to make decisions. Really???? Any decision made with hysteria as the back drop is a bad decision. And what's wrong with all these legislatures--are they that stupid that they can't see if they can do this to Cindy, the same will happen to them?? Yes, Cindy must run for the newly vacated office to protect ALL of our due process rights under the Constitution--substantive and procedural Due Process--one is not more important than the other--they are equal rights guaranteed under the constitution. It is offensive to me that legislators swearing their oath of office (Mich Const. Article XI, Sec. 1) conspired to violate our constitutional rights. Run Cindy Run!!!!!

    You Betcha! (12)Nuh Uh.(8)
    • Kevin Rex Heine
      September 12, 2015 at 10:38 am

      And, to be fair "Sue," Cindy certainly has that option. (Todd, by resigning, has probably triggered the Serotkin Precedent, guaranteeing that he cannot run to replace himself.) The question is whether she has the emotional drive to exercise it.

      As Cindy has herself acknowledged, she was brilliantly played over the past five weeks, if not the past sixteen weeks or longer. And I'd be willing to bet that that includes being played/abandoned by people that she was sure she could count on when the chips were down. I have no clue what her next move is going to be (other than the reality that there will be a next move), but given the wringer she's just been put through, I'll be little surprised if she chooses to take a pass on this go-around.

      You Betcha! (5)Nuh Uh.(1)
      • KG One
        September 17, 2015 at 3:10 pm

        And just like clockwork...

        You Betcha! (0)Nuh Uh.(0)
  4. B David
    September 12, 2015 at 8:49 am

    These two were clearly not suited to politics. They made a huge mess and embarrassed everyone. It's only natural the body would reject them. Defending them only highlights the hypocrisy of right wing Christian politics.

    You Betcha! (11)Nuh Uh.(12)
  5. Jason
    September 12, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    I have been privately corrected by a reader.

    When I said

    "when it became clear that the House leadership could not, or would not ‘control their side’."

    It is probably truer, that leadership did in fact"control their side."

    You Betcha! (6)Nuh Uh.(0)
  6. Sue Schwartz
    September 13, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    I found it interesting the different takes everyone had. To us outsiders, it was a "created hysteria" and me thinks both sides negotiated, manipulated, left the vote board open for more than 10 hours, stayed in session about 15 hours, and otherwised acted with much buffoonery. This decision was clearly collectively made in distress. In fact, this behavior was more offensive to me than what Cindy did. But by removing her voice, left her constituents without a voice. Therefore, I think that Cindy needs to go into federal court and seek an injunction against this action. It would start with a TRO, which would paralyze the House (that would be a good thing) and the facts secreted from the public will be out and heard in a court of law. Also it will give light to the 15 hours of deal-making which probably had nothing to do with the vote. The issues which need to be raised is substantive and procedural due process and other violations of the state and federal constitution. And it would truly save us money to have the House paralyzed while this case winds through the courts.

    You Betcha! (3)Nuh Uh.(1)
    • 10x25MM
      September 13, 2015 at 7:00 pm

      By my calculations, the 80th and 82nd Districts will be unrepresented for 179 days. Five months and 26 days. Essentially half a year. 127 real business days. 75 Legislature business days.

      Thank you Lt. Gov. Calley.

      You Betcha! (2)Nuh Uh.(0)

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