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Michigan lawmakers forced from office over affair now face charges

LANSING, Mich. -- The Michigan attorney general says two Michigan Republican lawmakers forced from office over an extramarital affair are being charged with felonies in the case.

Attorney General Bill Schuette announced Friday that Todd Courser is being charged with perjury for lying under oath during testimony to lawmakers, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

He says Cindy Gamrat is being charged with misconduct in office, punishable by five year in prison.

Courser, who resigned rather than be expelled, and Gamrat, who was kicked out, were ousted from their posts in September.

After the scandal broke in August, the freshmen Republican House members asked to be censured. But the Republican-led House pursued expulsion.

Michigan state Rep. Cindy Gamrat has apologiz... 02:32

Courser, of Lapeer, and Gamrat, of Plainwell, both are married to other people.

The House Business Office conducted a probe to determine whether public resources were used to hide or divert attention from their affair and whether two aides who refused to help were wrongly fired.

Michigan State Rep. Todd Courser sent support... 01:03

Courser accused his staffers of attempting to blackmail him over the scandal. He said the attempted blackmail was why he admitted to orchestrating the distribution of a fictional email claiming he had sex with a male prostitute in a bid to conceal the extramarital relationship.

Gamrat and Courser have apologized, but said they didn't misuse resources. Both freshman tea party favorites said they would not step down.

The Michigan House voted in August to form a special committee of four Republicans and two Democrats to investigate and make a recommendation on what should happen to Courser and Gamrat.

The state constitution allows the 109-member House to expel a member with a two-thirds vote and gives the chamber broad discretion to decide grounds for expulsion. Cotter said the panel, which will have subpoena powers and be able to administer oaths, also could have recommended another form of discipline or no discipline.

The former aide to Michigan state representat... 10:35

A former top aide to the two lawmakers said he had warned the pair to knock off their shenanigans, but they dismissed him.

At a news conference, Joshua Cline said he told the pair in January they needed to establish "professional boundaries" between their increasingly salacious personal lives and their professional lives.

At that point, despite their districts over 100 miles apart, the pair had basically consolidated their offices into one physical space in which Courser would routinely get tucked in to sleep by Gamrat, Cline said. He also said he had in their shared office witnessed "long, romantic...hugs" between the outspoken social conservatives who base legislation on their Christian beliefs.

Cline also said the two would "disappear" for hours at a time, especially on Thursdays, and then return demanding food.

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