LANSING – State Representatives Gretchen Driskell (D-Saline), David Rutledge (D-Superior Township) and Adam F. Zemke (D-Ann Arbor), are currently declining to vote on House Resolutions 139 and 141, which sought to expel Representatives Todd Courser (R-Lapeer) and Cindy Gamrat (R-Plainwell) from the Michigan House of Representatives. Citing transparency issues within the House select committee, which first examined the situation, the representatives felt that key information had been manipulated or withheld, making an informed vote impossible.
“It is essential in every circumstance in which the Legislature needs to police itself that the citizens of Michigan can believe without a doubt that it does so in a fair and just fashion,” Rep. Zemke said. “The politics and hypocrisy of Representatives Courser and Gamrat aside, what is ultimately at stake here is the restoration of trust in our Legislature.”
Among the many issues within the Select Committee to Examine the Qualifications of Representatives Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser, key were the striking of significant testimony, and the refusal to call necessary witnesses. Democratic committee members frequently requested more information and were denied by the Republican chair. Questions to those testifying were ruled out of order, and a motion to debate a resolution that would have subpoened testimony from the staffers who first exposed Courser and Gamrat’s wrongdoing was voted down. Republicans also refused a Democratic call for the investigation to be turned over to the state Attorney General to conduct a criminal investigation.
“While we, like many of our fellow Democrats, want to get back to work on serious issues for the people of Michigan, it is obvious that due process was not appropriately followed here,” said Rep. Driskell. “Representatives Courser and Gamrat should absolutely be held accountable for their actions, but rushing to an expulsion vote does nothing to help increase the integrity of our Legislature.”
“Why did the Speaker’s office permit the whistleblowing staff to be fired? Why were the whistleblowers not subpoenaed and questioned under oath? And why bring the resolution to expel before House members had a reasonable time to review the 800 page report?” Rep. Rutledge said, in explaining his personal reasons for declining. “In a situation like this, the only thing we can trust as members of the House is that the process is fair. If we can’t trust the process, then we have chaos.”