Politics 101: When you plan a fake scandal to distract from your real scandal, make sure no one's recording the conversation.
In one of the most insane local political scandals in recent memories, The Detroit News reports that Michigan state representative Todd Courser had or is having an affair with fellow Republican and state Rep. Cindy Gamrat, and that he was going to attempt to cover up said affair by planting a fake liaison with a male prostitute. Stick with us.
Courser and Gamrat had come up together through the ranks of Tea Party activism, which would mean that their extra-marital relationship likely would not play well with their conservative base. When news of the affair had apparently leaked to the press, Courser set a plan in motion to diminish the effects of the ensuing scandal.
Recordings obtained by The Detroit News reveal that Courser was planning a fake scandal, where an anonymous e-mail sent to Republican activists would suggest the politician solicited and had sex with a male prostitute. This would give Courser the chance to claim the moral high ground and vehemently deny the charges he himself created. This is step one of an actual, real-life plan.
Having successfully shot down these rumors, Courser would then be able to plausibly deny the rumors of his (actual, real) affair with Gamrat. Throughout the recording, he refers to the strategy as both a "controlled burn" and a chance to "innoculate the herd" against future scandals.
The audio is remarkable as it shows a politician dancing as fast as he can behind closed doors to save his career. The dialogue could easily be copied and pasted into a scene from Veep.
The recordings were provided to the News by House aide Ben Graham, who told the News he had duties removed and was later fired after refusing to take a sick day in order to send the phony gay prostitute e-mail back in May. He can be heard throughout the recording telling his boss it would be better to resign than take this approach. Someone should hire this obviously sensible Ben Graham character.
Courser would not comment on the recordings or Graham's firing to the News, other than to confirm that is his voice.
Graham himself phrased it best in the audio: "This is a crazy way to deal with this situation."