Former aides to Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat settle whistleblower lawsuit against state House

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - Two former Michigan House aides who say they were fired amid the Todd Courser-Cindy Gamrat sex scandal in Lansing have reached a settlement in their federal whistleblower lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids, accused the Michigan House of Representatives of illegally firing the staffers when they reported wrongdoing by Courser and Gamrat.

A federal judge was notified this week that the parties reached an agreement to settle the matter. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed; lawyers for both sides on Friday declined comment.

Former House aides Keith Allard and Benjamin Graham claimed they were unlawfully fired as a direct result of reports they made to key House staffers regarding “illegal conduct’’ on the part of their former bosses, Courser and Gamrat.

U.S. District Court Judge Gordon J. Quist in August refused to dismiss the case, saying Allard and Graham were engaged in protected activity under a whistleblower law when they reported wrongdoing. The two were fired in July, 2015, shortly before the affair between Courser and Gamrat went public.

In an order posted Thursday, Oct. 20, both sides were given until Nov. 14 to file a Stipulation of Voluntary Dismissal of the Dec. 2015 lawsuit.

In the lawsuit, the pair said they alerted aides to House Speaker Kevin Cotter of “matters of public concern,’’ including the Courser-Gamrat affair.

Cotter’s office covered it up and let them be fired at the behest of Courser and Gamrat, in violation of their whistleblower and free speech rights, the lawsuit claimed.

Garmat was expelled and Courser resigned in Sept. 2015. The pair last month filed separate lawsuits against the state House and various government officials, claiming defamation and dirty politics.

Courser of Lapeer County and Gamrat of Allegan County both claim they were forced from office after it was reported the Tea Party Republicans were having an affair.  

Criminal charges were filed against the former lawmakers.

A judge dismissed charges against Gamrat, but ordered Courser to stand trial for perjury and misconduct in office. He’s accused of lying to a legislative committee and ordering staff to forge his signature on documents.

(© 2016 WZZM)


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