FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Progress Michigan
January 4, 2016
House Leadership Spends over $77,000 on Courser/Gamrat Scandal
House spends more than lawmaker yearly salary to expel lawmakers
LANSING — To investigate the Courser/Gamrat scandal, the Michigan House leadership decided to pay an outside law firm over $77,000, in lieu of utilizing the Attorney General’s office or House Majority Counsel.
According to a response to a Progress Michigan Freedom of Information Act request from House Business Office Director Tim Bowlin, the Michigan House of Representatives paid the Dickinson Wright law firm at least $77,000 to assist in the House Business Office investigation of former Reps. Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser.
The House Business Office has not received the billable hours for “November and/or December,” according to the response.
The House leadership is paying an outside firm despite the fact that the House employs its own counsel. It was announced just before the holidays that the same firm will be handling the lawsuit against Speaker Cotter and the Michigan House filed by former House employees.
The total cost for the investigation so far, in only payments to outside counsel has cost more than either Courser or Gamrat made in an entire year. Michigan State Representatives are paid $71,685 annually, according to the House website.
“It is troubling and incredibly ironic that two lawmakers were expelled from the House for wasting taxpayer resources, and yet, Speaker Cotter has already spent more than a lawmaker’s salary on an outside firm as a result of his bungled investigation,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan.“Speaker Cotter seems to be using taxpayer dollars to cover up his own political missteps. Cotter should use his taxpayer-funded attorney to defend the House and pay for any outside counsel himself.”
An online version of the response to the FOIA request, which was written on December 22nd, is available here.