LANSING –State Representatives Brian Banks (D-Detroit), Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit), LaTanya Garrett (D-Detroit) and Fred Durhal III (D-Detroit) are declining to vote to expel state Representatives Todd Courser (R-Lapeer) and Cindy Gamrat (R-Plainwell). Other Detroit Caucus members who are not now voting are Reps. Wendell Byrd (D-Detroit) and Alberta Tinsley-Talabi (D-Detroit)
“A vote to expel a legislator is the most serious vote any of us will take, and we should take that vote knowing that a process was followed and that those facing expulsion have been given due process, but that is not what has happened in the House of Representatives,” said Banks. “This has been a rushed judgement. Key testimony was struck from the record, and important witnesses were not called before the committee. I do not believe that there is enough information at this time to vote to expel.”
Democratic members of the Select Committee to Examine the Qualifications of Representatives Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser tried to gain more information, but their requests were continuously denied by the committee’s Republican chair. Questions to those testifying were ruled out of order, and their attempt to introduce a resolution requesting subpoena power for the committee in order to bring Courser and Gamrat’s former staffers in to testify was voted down. Democrats have also repeatedly called for the investigation to be turned over to the state Attorney General to conduct a criminal investigation, but Republicans refused.
“I am honored to serve in the Michigan House. I hold this institution in great esteem, and while I take the actions of Reps. Courser and Gamrat seriously, I, along with other members of the Detroit caucus, cannot in good conscience take this drastic step of expelling them from this body with the omission of testimony by all parties in this investigation,” said Gay-Dagnogo. “I am in opposition to any actions which circumvent democracy and due process and I believe that this has been a flawed process. We have an opportunity to truly advance bipartisan integrity with a more in-depth investigation.”
“I truly believe that voting requires us being well informed and has no place for partisanship,” said Garrett. “There is too much at stake to mishandle this issue. For such an important vote, I am very disappointed that House Republicans did not release the vast amount of information concerning the misconduct by Reps. Courser and Gamrat in a timely fashion.” Garrett, who is also an assistant minority floor leader, feels that “The members of the Democratic Caucus truly understand that this vote is not just about the two parties involved in this affair, but the nearly 180, 000 constituents who have placed their confidence in elected lawmakers at the polls. I believe an independent investigation is warranted free from any hidden, partisan agendas, to make sure we get this most consequential vote right.”
“With all the issues at hand, such as roads and education, the Republicans are making the Courser – Gamrat issue the most serious and using it to deflect attention away from all of the other issues that Michiganders really care about,” said Durhal. “If we are to examine the actions of Reps. Courser and Gamrat then we need a fair process. People deserve to know the truth. I come from a family legacy that has served with distinction in this institution, so the integrity of it is in my heart. Therefore, it is disrespectful to the institution to not provide due diligence.”