The Latest: Aide: Lawmaker asked me to send false email

AP News
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Posted: May 25, 2016 12:26 PM

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Latest on the prosecution of two former Michigan lawmakers who were forced from office (all times local):

12:10 p.m.

An aide says a former Michigan lawmaker asked him to send an outlandishly false email to fellow Republicans so his extramarital affair with another legislator wouldn't be believed, but the staffer refused because it was unethical and possibly illegal.

Benjamin Graham testified in court Wednesday that ex-Rep. Todd Courser called him in May 2015, asking for help to "destroy" himself as a ruse. Courser devised an explicit email that said he had been caught having sex with a male prostitute, to make his real affair with then-Rep. Cindy Gamrat less plausible if it was revealed publicly by an extortionist.

Graham, who later was fired, recorded the conversation with Courser and gave it to a newspaper for publication.

The House expelled Gamrat in September, and Courser resigned rather than be expelled.

The former legislators face felony misconduct in office charges stemming from a House investigation into their conduct.

10:55 a.m.

A staffer for two former Michigan lawmakers who were forced from office in a sex scandal says Todd Courser lied under oath during testimony before a legislative disciplinary committee last year.

Joshua Cline was the first witness to testify Wednesday in a hearing that will determine if there is probable cause for Courser and Cindy Gamrat to go to trial. The conservative Republicans had an extramarital affair and face felony misconduct in office charges stemming from a House investigation.

They also are accused of telling staff to forge their signatures on legislation. Cline says Courser lied when he told lawmakers he had checked into whether having staff sign introduced bills was OK.

Courser has admitted to devising an explicit phony email that said he had been caught having sex with a male prostitute. He explained he thought his tale would make the affair less plausible if it was revealed by an extortionist demanding that they resign.

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12:01 a.m.

Two Michigan lawmakers who were forced from office in a sex scandal face a key hearing on charges that they committed felony misconduct in office.

The preliminary exam scheduled to begin Wednesday in a Lansing courtroom will determine if there is probable cause to go to trial. Todd Courser resigned last September and Cindy Gamrat became the fourth legislator to ever be expelled.

The conservative Republicans had an extramarital affair.

Courser has admitted to devising an explicit phony email that said he had been caught having sex with a male prostitute behind a Lansing nightclub. He explained that he thought his tale would make the affair less plausible if it was revealed by an anonymous extortionist who sent him and Gamrat text messages demanding that they resign.