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US lawmaker concocts male prostitute smear to distract from affair: report

TANGLED WEB:After receiving a text message making it clear his extramarital relationship had been discovered, the lawmaker came up with a campaign to ‘inoculate the herd’

AP, LANSING, Michigan

Michigan House of Representatives lawmaker Todd Courser, right, waves as Michigan House of Representatives lawmaker Cindy Gamrat smiles, in the House of Representatives, Lansing, Michigan, on Jan. 14.

Photo: dale G. Young / detroit news via AP

A state lawmaker in the US had an e-mail sent to his Republican supporters falsely claiming he had been caught having sex with a male prostitute, apparently believing such a smear campaign would help distract attention from an alleged extramarital affair between him and another legislator, a newspaper reported Friday.

The Detroit News obtained two recordings secretly made in May by a former aide to Michigan House of Representatives lawmaker Todd Courser of the Republican Party. In the recordings, Courser asks the aide, Ben Graham, to e-mail Republican activists and operatives from an anonymous account to create “a complete smear campaign” about him.

In the recordings, Courser tells Graham that he and Michigan House of Representatives lawmaker Cindy Gamrat, with whom he worked closely, received identical text messages about their relationship that day from an unknown number. Courser wonders aloud whether someone had pictures, video or audio recordings of him and Gamrat.

Neither Courser, a married father of four, nor Gamrat, a married mother of three, directly confirmed or denied having a sexual relationship during the recorded conversations. They also did not dispute Graham’s characterization of their relationship as an extramarital affair, the newspaper reported.

Courser said the e-mail he wanted Graham to send would “inoculate the herd” — an apparent reference to his and Gamrat’s supporters.

“It will make anything else that comes out after that — that isn’t a video — mundane, tame by comparison,” Courser told the aide.

Graham said when he refused to send the e-mail, he was stripped of some of duties and eventually fired last month.

The sexually explicit e-mail was received by Republicans in late May, two days after Courser’s recorded meeting with Graham.

During the meeting, Courser reads aloud portions of a draft e-mail.

Both lawmakers declined to comment to the Detroit News. Courser confirmed “that’s my voice” as a reporter played the recording in his office lobby, but he disputed the legality of the recording.

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