Skip to main content

tv   2020  ABC  January 22, 2016 10:01pm-11:00pm PST

10:01 pm
a hidden recording, is to smear himself. >> so, when people find out that it came from you, they're going to ask, todd, what the hell are you thinking? >> making up something so outrageous, no one would believe it when the truth leaked out. >> are you a hypocrite? >> we're right there with them, as they speak about the outrageous national scandal. >> sex, lives, coverups. >> cheating on their spouses. >> and a laughing stock. >> that's the worst plan i've ever heard, and i'm including trickle-down economics, the pull-out method, and the plot
10:02 pm
>> threatening texts. >> oh, my god. >> a secret affair. >> wow. >> all leading to disorder in the house. >> you have power, politics, sex. >> the circus needs to go. >> a capital offense. >> i'm elizabeth vargas. >> and i'm david muir. >> if you're stuck home tonight, settle in for a mystery that you would believe. a politician that created a scandal to protect himself. >> the recordings, threats, and now the two at the center of the affair, speaking out to "20/20" about why there was such an attempt to cover it up. here's gio benitez, with a
10:03 pm
>> reporter: lansing, michigan, its modest skyline nestled around the noble dome of the capitol, is normally the humdrum hub of state government. >> typical midwest town with typical midwest politics. >> reporter: but that all changed last january when two ambitious newcomers come to town. freshman representatives cindy gamrat -- >> i ran for office because i believe in freedom. >> reporter: and todd courser. >> we were going there on a mission. >> reporter: the two buttoned-down, plainspoken pols hail from opposite sides of the state. so you've got, what, 30 acres here? >> there's 30, yeah. it's great for the children, sort of created a huck finn life. >> reporter: courser, a lawyer by trade, is from rural, religious lapeer in the east. >> i think there's 112 churches. it's a very faith-based community. >> reporter: and gamrat, a homemaker and former nurse, from the modestly titled town of plainwell in the west. it's beautiful. >> it's a wonderful place to live. >> reporter: their districts may
10:04 pm
both staunch tea party, christian values conservatives and both married parents, firm believers in faith and family interesting, considering what's about to happen. >> he seemed to share the same values and the same principles as i had. >> reporter: what was part of your message? christian and family values? >> send me to lansing to be a strong voice for liberty and our conservative values. >> mixed in with again, the government overreach. i believe our federal government is out of control. >> she's very high energy, not scared of anybody and just very principled. >> reporter: enter two key players, keith allard, who signs on as gamrat's number two and ben graham, an old friend, who becomes courser's top aide. >> he's a very dynamic person. very engaging, charismatic. he definitely draws you in, and he knows that. >> i'm against this, thank you. >> reporter: last january, the two first-termers hit lansing like a cannonball determined to push their ultra-conservative
10:05 pm
fighting their own party. >> come hell or high water, we weren't going to cut a deal with the gop to sort of further ourselves politically. >> reporter: but the disruptive duo's sharp elbows approach alienate just about any potential ally they'd need to get their bills passed. >> todd actually kind of declared public warfare on his colleagues. >> they were just very suspicious that everybody was looking to stab them in the back. >> reporter: in fact the only relationship courser and gamrat own. the two are certainly close. combine their two staffs, running operations out of the same office. >> very unusual. as soon as they got here, people >> reporter: there are also frequent late night sessions that have the two overnighting at the downtown radisson hotel. >> we'd have lobbyists and fellow staff members ask us if they're having a relationship.
10:06 pm
something like that. >> doing great. >> reporter: yes, it is hard to believe. todd courser is married to his they have four kids together, pick apples in their spare time. >> that's a good one, buddy. raising three kids of her own with her long-time husband joe. the kind of house mom you see smiling out of facebook photos, and price hunting in the produce aisle. >> don't forget the oreos. >> reporter: but the rumors mill and now somebody in this quiet talking. take a look at this. an uncredited photo of courser giving gamrat a foot rub in broad daylight while parked at a lansing strip mall. the photo is posted online after a nameless paparazzo delivers it to controversial political blogger brandon hall. >> it was just like, wow, i mean, "what is my representative doing right now in lansing?" they probably think they're in
10:07 pm
here they are in a parking lot, giving each other foot rubs. >> reporter: people were following you guys. >> yeah. >> reporter: and taking these pictures of you. >> i know. >> reporter: together in this car. >> and there was nothing happening in the car. >> reporter: okay, maybe not in the car, but there is quite a bit happening elsewhere, specifically, that radisson. it turns out that courser and gamrat really are more than political bedfellows. >> it's your typical secret double life. they are putting themselves out there as these right-wing christians, but they are fornicating behind the scenes. >> reporter: given your positions on family values, didn't you see it as a real risk that this affair was going on? >> in the beginning it doesn't happen that way. as you walked forward and all of a sudden before you know it, you're in a relationship with somebody. >> reporter: despite the happy photos, courser does acknowledge that his marriage to fon was as cold and dead as an upper peninsula winter.
10:08 pm
burden. >> reporter: was there any moment where you just thought to yourself, todd, what the hell are you thinking? >> well, i mean, there was a bitterness and a hardness of heart. and at that point you don't even recognize yourself. >> reporter: are you a hypocrite? >> you know, it's tough because i think there is a component of that. everybody would hear that i'm a believer in christ, they wouldn't hear the part that i'm failed and flawed, you know, like everybody else. but it was true. >> reporter: and what's representative gamrat's position on this issue? can you tell us what was going through your mind at the time? >> no. i'm just not going to, not going to get into that. >> reporter: did you violate traditional family values? >> sure. yeah. i did. i violated the covenant between a husband and a wife. >> reporter: the affair continues throughout the spring. so do the rumors and so do the denials. >> one of our staff said to them you need to consider the optics of the situation and they laughed it off. they just, it was a joke to them. >> reporter: but it's no laughing matter when the whiff of blackmail starts swirling
10:09 pm
out of the blue, both gamrat and courser start receiving a series of text messages threatening to expose their affair from an anonymous, disposable "burner phone." just look at some that courser saved. "cindy sounds like she's great in the sheets." "silence in this case can be very detrimental. it could be disastrous, really." the texter says he'll let "everybody off the hook on one condition only. you resign, todd." he made the same demand of gamrat. and adding teeth to the threat, the texter is referencing their private phone calls and inside details of their trips. it's as if they knew your every move. >> they did know every move. they knew my e-mails out of my outbox even after i changed my password. they knew texts from my phone. >> reporter: the texter is someone close. someone with the means and the will to destroy him. it's enough to put anyone on edge. >> there was just a lot of stress. >> reporter: obviously, this was driving you to a breaking point. >> i would say that you couldn't have been in a lower spot.
10:10 pm
and, and sarcastic and fun, but there would be times where he would take things out on us with a great deal of anger. it was tough. it was very tough. >> reporter: and it's about to get a lot tougher as representative courser concocts a truly twisted plan to make his problems go away. >> he said, "ben, i need you to destroy me." and i paused for a second and i said, "todd, what do you mean?" >> reporter: stay with us.e get a mcpick 2 introducing a hot new deal at mcdonald's that starts with you. now, get 2 delicious tastes for just $2 dollars. the mcpick 2 menu. mix and match new melty mozzarella sticks with a juicy mcdouble. or golden fries with a classic mcchicken. only $2 bucks for any two. hurry in and choose your faves for just $2 dollars. it's the tastiest deal yet.
10:11 pm
when people say i'm lucky to have this hair color, i thank them. but then i really thank preference. preference is luminous, fade-defying color that lasts. golden and warm and luminescent. luminous color isn't luck, it's preference. l'oreal. hair colorist. paris [richard] a thousand people will win one thousand dollars every day at h&r block. a thousand people win a thousand dollars every single day for a month. get in on this! i will not lose. it's refund season. they say when mr. clean saw all the different things his new smart phone does... reminded him of his magic eraser. it's not just for marks on walls... it's tough on kitchen grease... and bathroom grime too. he's your...
10:12 pm
can anybody help us? echo: help us, help us, help us... at the sears' winter event, let our experts help you save 35% or more on appliance hot buys like this kenmore washer and dryer for $449.99 each. sears. house experts for home owners. performance... ...reimagined. style... ...reinvented. sophistication... ...redefined. introducing the all-new lexus rx and rx hybrid. agile handling. available 12.3-inch navigation screen and panorama glass roof. never has luxury been this expressive. this is the pursuit of perfection. pepper discovers a wholesome breakfast with jimmy dean delights, made with real egg whites, lean cut meats, and whole grains. an excellent source of protein, it's a delicious way to fuel up on energy to help power through her morning run.
10:13 pm
to pedal faster, and inspires ted to land that front-side ollie. which delights everyone, including pepper's twins with jimmy dean delights, good mornings
10:14 pm
tt0w!tw((i! %4@-2&t tt0w!tw((i! el@-8!8 tt0w!tw((i! ed@->#\ tt0w!tw((i% )8h-^] tt0w!tw((i% kzh-c2\ tt0w!tw((i% n-h-6[p tt0w!tw((i% 0ph-(
10:15 pm
>> reporter: so, with his all-hearing phone recording everything, graham sits down across from courser's desk and gets the shock of a lifetime. it turns out courser wants graham to send an anonymous e-mail to fellow republicans. and it ain't about tax reform. >> it's already written. i didn't print it. i don't know what god will do, buddy. todd courser caught on tape behind lansing nightclub. in truth, courser secretly removed from caucus several weeks ago due to a male on male paid for sex. he is a bisexual porn-addicted sexual deviant. >> reporter: your ears aren't deceiving you. courser has concocted an e-mail to shovel dirt on himself for scandalous behavior. and check out the potty-mouth on this devout christian. >> and then you just get nasty about it. his [ bleep ] is hanging out all over lansing since the election. gun-toting, bible-thumping, [ bleep ] freak. he doesn't work in lansing. he's just there feeding his habit of alcohol, drugs and illicit sex. >> what he was telling me literally blew me away.
10:16 pm
happen, that he would say those things. >> reporter: and it just gets crazier because courser insists that none of these scandalous claims are true. in fact, they're absurd. but that's the whole point. >> i'm not a homosexual. i don't do alcohol, i don't do drugs, right. >> that's what i mean. that's why it's not believable. >> right, they don't know that. people are so disturbed. they won't print it. but anything after that is going to be suspect. it'll be looking, looking like a complete smear campaign. >> reporter: "anything after that?" courser is clearly anticipating that the mystery texter will be exposing his love affair with cindy gamrat any day now. >> stuff's going to come out, benjamin, and they're going to implicate myself and cindy gamrat. >> reporter: courser's hope is that the phony smear will somehow thwart the extortion scheme of the mysterious texter by diverting attention from the affair. >> i'm going to start a rumor that i'm having sex with gay prostitutes all over lansing and
10:17 pm
with cindy seem like nothing. and nothing's going to stick to the wall because it's so slimy. >> people will see it and they'll be like, "holy [ bleep ]! what is that?" >> you know, i even hear my voice. i don't even recognize who i am. >> reporter: so when people find out that it came from you and it's about you, they're going to ask, are you crazy? >> yeah, it's inside of that at that moment, at that situation in the darkness of where i was at, this personally. >> reporter: why did you decide to go with the storyline of a gay prostitute? i mean, did you think -- >> it was so -- it was so ridiculous. it was really over the top. i know it was offensive to the homosexuals. it was completely ridiculous, and i didn't mean it. >> reporter: but what about gamrat's role in the scheme? on the recording, courser says she is down with the plan. >> hey, we agree. >> who? >> cindy and i. >> on this?
10:18 pm
>> reporter: right there, he says you both agreed on this. is he lying? >> well, when i heard that audio, what ran through my mind is, why did he say this? >> reporter: so this e-mail, for you, came out of left field. >> yes. >> reporter: so that was a lie? >> yeah, oh, absolutely. >> reporter: back in that law office, courser's demented plan has little appeal for his aide ben graham. remember, courser wants graham to send the e-mail for him. instead, the trusted aide says he walks out of the meeting shaken and alarmed. >> i couldn't believe he was asking me, and i, i couldn't do it. i texted him back and said, "todd, i can't help you do this. i can't help you cover it up." >> i think loyalty went out the window for the staffers. >> reporter: undeterred, courser sends out the self-incriminating e-mail himself under a fake name to a republican mailing list. "breaking scandal" blared the subject line. indeed, it feels like this
10:19 pm
olivia pope's turf. >> in this town, your career is over. >> reporter: and yet, despite hitting his self-destruct button, courser does not self-destruct. the e-mail gets little notice. the sleaze bomb is a dud. >> i sort of dismissed it, because i thought, well, i hear a lot of weird stuff in politics and a lot of slanderous things are said about a lot of people. >> reporter: better still, the tormenting texter never follows through with the threats. did you think, "i'm going to get away with this?" >> i don't think it was really to get away with it. it's like one of those chapters in your life you say, "it was a crazy time." >> reporter: but then, courser and gamrat give themselves more bad advice, and follow it. that summer, for reasons now in litigation, they decide to cut off their own right hands, ben graham and keith allard, citing poor performance. >> they came into work late. they wouldn't show up when they were required to. >> reporter: these are the guys who know all your secrets. >> they do. >> reporter: was it the smart
10:20 pm
>> there's no way that they were competent and that they should be there. >> reporter: maybe so, but hell hath no fury like a staffer scorned. >> i felt that it was important for people to know the truth about these people, and what they were doing. >> reporter: coming up, those confidants double-cross the boss. and todd courser finally hits the national political stage, but not in the way he hoped. >> it's true. he sent an anonymous e-mail accusing himself of an affair. "oh, my god. >> reporter: how will the betrayed spouses take the news? >> what was going through your mind when he first told you what was going on? >> reporter: and the fight for their political lives.
10:21 pm
their capital offense? ...nashville. kfc's new nashville hot chicken. crispy, hand prepared chicken with a legendary blend of spicy and smoky flavors. you know, in hindsight, i probably shoulda just started in nashville.
10:22 pm
ibs-d. you know the symptoms when they start. abdominal pain. urgent diarrhea. now there's prescription xifaxan. xifaxan is a new ibs-d treatment that helps relieve your diarrhea and abdominal pain symptoms. and xifaxan works differently. it's a prescription antibiotic that acts mainly in the digestive tract. do not use xifaxan if you have a history of sensitivity to rifaximin, rifamycin antibiotic agents, or any components of xifaxan. tell your doctor right away if your diarrhea worsens while taking xifaxan, as this may be a sign of a serious or even fatal condition. tell your doctor if you have liver disease or are taking other medications, because these may increase the amount of xifaxan in your body. tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan on becoming pregnant, or are nursing. the most common side effects are nausea and an increase in liver enzymes.
10:23 pm
talk to your doctor about new xifaxan. when you get your business a refund, do you insist on being called the taxonator? then you might be gearcentric. and get a $100 service bundle for free! office depot officemax.
10:24 pm
not all wrinkles are the same. some wrinkles, like the vertical ones... make you look sad. revitalift from l'oreal even fights the appearance of tough vertical wrinkles. it works! the advanced formula with pro-retinol visibly fights wrinkles plus firms skin. revitalift from l'oreal skin expert paris. tt2w`t3n`&4" bt@q>o\ tt2w`t3n`&4" "a@q.c8 tt2w`t3n`&4" bm@q%h4 tt4w`t3n`&4"" dztq q[l tt4w`t3n`&4"" entq !_, tt4w`t3n`&4"" gzt& 8xt tt4w`t3n`&4"" hnt& (v8 tt4w`t3n`&4"" iztq b?@ tt4w`t3n`&4"" jntq po tt4w`t3n`&4"" lzt& h"\
10:25 pm
capital offense. >> reporter: it's a pleasant summer day at the detroit news bureau in lansing, michigan. suddenly reporter chad livengood receives a call that makes his year. >> i got a phone call from a source who indicated the ben graham and keith allard would like to meet me. >> reporter: graham and allard have been fired by their bosses, controversial state representatives todd courser and cindy gamrat. now it's time for some payback >> i thought their families needed to know, it needed to come out, so they could deal with it. >> sat down with these two men and they started to play this tape for me. >> todd courser caught on tape. >> yep. that recording. >> it was shocking, it was unbelievable.
10:26 pm
story. >> reporter: on august 7th, livengood's story detonates on the front page, setting off a media frenzy. >> the bizarre situation. >> sex and coverup scandal. >> reporter: for reporter jim kiertzner of abc detroit prime red meat as courser's supporters go into bunker mode. blood! >> no one in michigan has seen anything like this in the last three decades. >> cover up the adultery with lies. >> juicy element after juicy element after juicy element. >> i spent days and days on the outside of his little law office. >> when are you going the take
10:27 pm
why are you highding. >> reporter: for weeks, you're dodging reporters. >> a few weeks. at least three weeks. >> reporter: through it all, mrs. courser stands by her man. >> what was going through your mind when he first told you what was going on? >> i was pretty calm when he first told me. now it was subsequent days after that i didn't handle it so well. but we're working it out. you can't really point a finger at somebody when they do something and when they fall, because we all fall. we all make mistakes. >> reporter: meanwhile, 150 miles away in plainwell, there was nothing plain or well at the gamrat residence. so cindy, what was that next morning like when the news broke? >> we had scheduled for that day to go to the zoo and of course the media came, they were outside. let's make a beeline for the, for the truck. >> reporter: eventually the
10:28 pm
>> intentionally leaked a fake news story about hiring a male prostitute. >> reporter: and it's irresistible to tv comics. >> it's the worst plan i ever heard, and i'm including trickle-down economics, the pull-out method, and the plot of the parent trap. >> reporter: here you are on national tv, those comedy talk shows, you're the butt of jokes. >> yeah. >> reporter: what's that like? >> i'm pretty tough, my blood pressure doesn't go up a whole lot, uh, but this was tough. >> reporter: one week later -- >> just want to thank my family. >> reporter: gamrat takes her place in the pantheon of cheating politicians who issue public apologies with stoic spouses by their side. >> my husband joe -- >> reporter: joe gamrat looks on, his face bereft of that family-photo smile. what about your husband? has he since forgiven you? >> he says he has, and i believe
10:29 pm
i'm here to say i'm sorry. >>ep rorter: but sometimes sorry doesn't cut it. >> they need to resign immediately. >> todd, say it's over. just step down. >> reporter: with all the christian values here, it must have rocked this community. >> it did. i mean, i really rocked our small town. >> reporter: did they start saying you're not a real christian? >> oh, absolutely. a lot of the times the most unforgiving people are people who profess christ. >> reporter: i've bet you taken some hard questions from them. >> you know, some people really relish watching somebody burn. just love it. and it's sick and it's evil and it's demonic. >> reporter: and remember -- gamrat and courser already have plenty of enemies within their own party. now the political knives are out. >> their scandal was dragging everybody down. they were embarrassing the leaders. they were embarrassing the party. >> reporter: the house launches an investigation which finds numerous instances of deceptive,
10:30 pm
dishonest conduct by both representatives, and says they abused their offices in attempting to cover it up. >> it's not always the scandal. it's the coverup. >> reporter: claims that, to this day, both courser and gamrat strongly deny. >> no comment right now. >> are you humiliated by this? they're recommending that you be expelled. is that appropriate, sir? >> reporter: that sets the stage for a dark and dramatic night under the capitol dome last september. there's no death penalty in michigan but this sure felt like an execution. >> by then the republicans and the leaders and everybody had said we got to toss out the trash. >> stand against deception, disdain and disrespect. >> reporter: while representative ed mcbroom and others lobby for expulsion, courser is not about to go gentle into that good night. >> i had no intentions of resigning.
10:31 pm
warrior. expelling me. >> reporter: but as the clock the gladiator is being fed to the lions. >> unfit to serve. we could see that he was on the house floor lobbying colleagues, pleading to stay. >> they were not letting us leave until they got an expulsion out of me. >> today is the day to end this. the circus needs to go. >> and you know, i just felt like it was done and i walked up you know, i'm going to resign. >> reporter: escorted by red-coated security guards, courser makes his exit. were you devastated? >> no, you know, those lead blankets that they put on you at the dentist, it was like 20 of out the door. and i got in my truck and drove away. i think i got about five miles
10:32 pm
lot, and i just turned the truck off and i didn't move for 12 hours. you've let down so many people and, god, if i could go back and undo it, you know, lord knows i would. >> reporter: back in the house chamber, it's 4:00 in the morning and it's cindy's turn to ascend the scaffold. she says she, too, thought about simply throwing in the towel. >> the other representative had resigned, and i panicked a little bit. >> reporter: but in that sea of hostility, cindy finds a rock of support. her 18-year old son joey. >> in my mind, resigning is giving up the fight before you get to actually fight. >> he said, stay and fight. he said, okay mom, take a deep breath and hold your head high. >> you're going to walk in, you're going to act like you own the place. >> i can't go back and change the past.
10:33 pm
to go forward and do it better. and i still believe that my actions warrant censure, but not expulsion. >> reporter: gamrat pleads her case a final time but the house has heard enough. they vote 91-12 to expel her. she is escorted out with her head held high, making michigan history as the first woman to be expelled from the chamber. i mean, this is everything you had worked for. >> i know. >> reporter: and here it is in one night. gone. >> this isn't how i pictured it. regardless of all this pressure. sorry. it's not how i wanted it to go. >> two michigan lawmakers are out of office. >> reporter: their political obituaries are written. >> a strange end to an even stranger scandal.
10:34 pm
curtain for both of them. >> reporter: but sometimes final curtains aren't so final. >> just the latest twist. >> reporter: it's gamrat and courser, the sequel! they're not ready to give up the shine it on whoever was sending those mystery texts that led to their downfall. stay with us.n you help? start with the millions of used cars for sale at the new! show me cars with no accidents. show me no accidents and one owner. show me no accident, one owner cars with service records. that's awesome. that's the power of carfax . find the cars you want, avoid the ones you don't! plus you get a free carfax report with every listing!
10:35 pm
with 40 megs of internet speed from centurylink, a family of four can all be online at the same time, streaming, gaming, or downloading movies. yeah, the internet's great, but i think hair and makeup went a little too far. yeah, that's not working. i much prefer the two-day beard, horn-rimmed glasses, just-slept-in-his-car kinda thing. yeah, i miss the rumpled crazy uncle look. okay. be "paul giamatti." that's the essence of this role. feel like a hollywood insider with high-speed internet from centurylink. if you're doing everything right but find it harder and harder to get by, you're not alone. while our people work longer hours for lower wages, almost all new income goes to the top 1%.
10:36 pm
pay their fair share of taxes, provide living wages for working people, ensure equal pay for women. i'm bernie sanders. i approve this message because together, we can make a political revolution and create an economy and democracy that works for all and not just the powerful few. "20/20" continues with a capital offense. >> reporter: they're sorry. they're ashamed. but todd courser and cindy gamrat are not about to let trifles like their tabloid
10:37 pm
office dash their ambitions. >> todd courser now saying he will run for re-election after giving up his seat just a week ago. >> reporter: yep, brazen as it may seem, todd and cindy have ended their affair, but now they want to continue their political careers. >> they're almost in denial. they didn't look at themselves the way everybody else in michigan did. >> reporter: why are you running again? >> one of the things that concerned me the most was that my voters didn't have a voice in the matter at all. >> reporter: plenty of other candidates are vying for the seats too, but gamrat and courser have something the competition lacks. >> i have the highest name id, i think, of anybody that's ever run for state house. i think what has happened has sort of elevated me to, you know, in some way to mythical status. >> reporter: a lot of people say, "come on, name recognition?" that's the reason you wouldn't be voted for. >> if you have time that passes, i certainly have the best name recognition. >> reporter: is it for the right
10:38 pm
the people should have an opportunity to make their choice. >> reporter: but back in lansing, their former colleagues aren't exactly eager to welcome them back. >> it's a continuation of the bizarre behavior. i think it showed contempt for the system. it showed their contempt for the voters. >> it's not about me, it's about the people. >> reporter: courser and gamrat say they are still the most conservative candidates running. >> now, the voters will be able to make their own decision. >> reporter: and now they just want to make laws, not love. november 3rd, election day, judgment day, and "20/20" is there. a prayer is very much in order. >> what's going through your mind today? >> obviously it's a huge day and you got all the emotions of all this happening. >> reporter: courser spends the day chatting up reporters and voters, while gamrat makes some
10:39 pm
constituents. >> i was just calling to encourage you to vote today. >> reporter: courser stays loose, toying with his dog, coco. >> do you want the pizza or do you want the ball? >> reporter: but as the results trickle in -- >> todd courser and cindy gamrat will not be going back to lansing. >> reporter: it's clear that the electorate's love affair with the two tea partiers is kaput. cindy gets just 9% of the vote. >> what was going through your mind as you were getting the results? >> i was disappointed. it's been a hard road. we worked really hard. we've given it our best. i'm exhausted. >> reporter: as for courser, he gets a backwoods whupping, garnering less than 4%. >> gary howell won. there's mine, 299. and he ended up with 2,263. >> reporter: the bad news, he lost an election.
10:40 pm
open arms. >> it's okay. it will take me a while to kind steps forward. >> reporter: post-election, office in lapeer to lick his wounds. but there's some unfinished business fevering his brain. he just can't get over those mysterious text messages that hit his iphone last may. remember, a hidden extortionist threatened to reveal the affair unless he and gamrat resigned, maintains, sent him over the edge. do you believe at that point >> the texter is requiring me to resign. it felt like there was a bigger >> reporter: courser won't stop until he gets some answers. and that investigation will bring this story to its unlikely conclusion at this unexpected location, with an even more surprising suspect. was courser up to his old tricks again? you wrote that e-mail.
10:41 pm
texts? the twists and turns lead to the mystery texter. >> i remember reading the report and, and just shaking and not wanting to believe what i was reading. >> reporter: when "20/20" returns. song: "that's life" song: "that's life" song: "that's life" that's life. you diet. you exercise. and if you still need help lowering your blood sugar... ...this is jardiance. along with diet and exercise, jardiance works around the clock to lower blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes. it works by helping your body to get rid of some of the sugar it doesn't need through urination. this can help you lower blood sugar and a1c. and although it's not for weight loss or lowering systolic blood pressure, jardiance could help with both.
10:42 pm
this may cause you to feel dizzy, faint or lightheaded, or weak upon standing. other side effects are genital yeast infections, urinary tract infections, changes in urination, kidney problems, and increased bad cholesterol. do not take jardiance if you are on dialysis or have severe kidney problems. stop taking jardiance and call your doctor right away if you have symptoms of an allergic reaction. symptoms may include rash, swelling, and difficulty breathing or swallowing. taking jardiance with a sulfonylurea or insulin may cause low blood sugar. tell your doctor about all the medicines you take and if you have any medical conditions. so talk to your doctor, and for details, visit indulgence... no longer comes at a price. well, actually it does...
10:43 pm
new hot shot whisky chicken applebee's grill & bar favorites made a little better for you. featuring new dishes loaded with flavor,
10:44 pm
there are two democratic visions for regulating wall street. one says it's okay to take millions from big banks and then tell them what to do. my plan -- break up the big banks, close the tax loopholes, and make them pay their fair share. then we can expand health care to all,
10:45 pm
will they like me? no. will they begin to play by the rules if i'm president? you better believe it. i'm bernie sanders and i approve this message. "20/20" continues, with a capitol offense. >> reporter: for months, it's been one of the biggest mysteries in michigan politics. who was the shadowy figure who
10:46 pm
threatening to expose their affair unless they resigned? the guy who helped put the whole tragic farce in motion. >> there was this guessing game about who sent the texts. it was the hottest guessing game in town. >> reporter: remember, the mystery texter somehow knew private details of todd and cindy's phone calls, e-mails and even their schedule. >> not many people had the inside information of what was going on. >> reporter: leading courser to believe the texter was someone close, you know, someone like a trusted aide. someone like ben graham or keith allard, possibly spilling secrets to his political enemies. >> i would say that somehow the texters are connected to the staff in some way to be able to get the information they had. >> i mean, i 100% assure you right now that it was not us. >> for him to say that we were involved in blackmailing him is laughable because if the texter asked him to resign, i don't
10:47 pm
>> reporter: the texter had warned courser that his "phone was a burner," a disposable phone, so "don't bother trying" to trace it. then, a breakthrough, when a private investigator hired by cindy's attorney is able to trace the name on the phone's account. get ready for this, it was a certain "c livingood," the name of the detroit news reporter who broke the story, chad livengood. >> my initial reaction was that's not surprising that somehow they're going to try to pin this on me. but that's not going to work, because i had nothing to do with it. >> reporter: and check out that spelling. most print reporters know how to write their own name. >> mine's with an e-n and this said i-n-g-o-o-d. >> reporter: then, another startling twist. the blog hires its own p.i. to look into the burner phone and this time a different name is uncovered. none other than todd courser. >> courser had a crazy scheme in
10:48 pm
a lot of people were wondering, are these texts were real or are these texts part of courser playing the victim again? >> reporter: you wrote that e-mail. why wouldn't you send those texts? >> obviously my credibility was already shot. >> reporter: courser is so determined to clear his name and catch the real culprits, he walks into the state police headquarters in lansing, demanding the cops launch a criminal investigation. >> i was hoping they would take h it. they didn't. the officer there said, "we know you did it. you just need to confess and you shouldn't make false police reports." >> reporter: eventually the police do launch an investigation and are able to track gps locations from the burner phone to the town of port huron, michigan. specifically to here, the domtar paper plant. >> reporter: investigators make a shocking discovery. there's a traveling chemical salesman working at that plant. a person very close to gamrat's family. believe it or not, her own
10:49 pm
>> i was devastated to see the police report. i remember reading the report and, and just shaking and not wanting to believe what i was reading. >> reporter: according to the report, an accomplice at the plant bought the phone "with money provided by joe gamrat" and gamrat "would tell him what to text." apparently, they were also assigning the misleading names to the account to throw them off the scent. gamrat has denied the allegations and although he was named as a suspect the prosecutor declined to press charges. >> reporter: did you feel vindicated? >> oh, sure. >> reporter: you felt like, see, i told you so, i wasn't the texter. >> right, yeah, obviously. i was telling the truth. >> reporter: the records also show that gamrat exchanged dozens of texts and calls with graham and allard. the aides say that was nothing unusual. joe gamrat would call at all times inquiring about cindy's whereabouts. what was unusual was what gamrat did with that information. for instance, last february, joe gamrat followed his wife to
10:50 pm
in downtown lansing and called allard to tell him what he discovered. and in that phone call he said cindy's husband joe actually saw cindy leaving one of these hotel rooms, todd courser's hotel room, early in the morning. >> he went back to his car, called her and she picked up and said, why are you calling me, i've been sleeping for hours. and he said, really? yeah, i've been asleep, like why are you waking me up? >> reporter: this was just the tip of the iceberg. the police report revealed that even as joe gamrat was standing beside his wife in public, in private, he'd become obsessed with tracking her. spying on cindy for months and planting surveillance devices in her bag and car. remember those photos of courser giving cindy a foot rub in a lansing parking lot? well, police found foot rub shots of the two on joe gamrat's iphone.
10:51 pm
was doing on his own wife was intense and amazing. i did not expect that. >> when that is happening to you, it's really traumatizing and there's a fear component, and when, a feeling of not feeling safe and secure. >> reporter: and what does joe gamrat have to say about all of this? so we've tried reaching joe gamrat, we've texted him, we've called him, no response yet. so now were going to go to his house, see him in person to see if he has anything to say about this. gamrat did come out to speak with us, but he wouldn't go on camera. he said he just wanted to put this whole thing behind him. >> joe gamrat is still the mystery man. if there's a cliffhanger in this story, it's joe gamrat. >> reporter: when we return, their political careers are over, and now maybe their marriages are too. >> it's hard cause it's cold out. >> reporter: why is cindy gamrat sleeping in a parking lot?a section of the strip is still shut down on a busy friday night.
10:52 pm
on channel 13 action news live at 11 breaking now... gunfire outside the bellagio involving police... i don't want to live with the uncertainties of hep c. or wonder whether i should seek treatment. i am ready. because today there's harvoni. a revolutionary treatment for the most common type of chronic hepatitis c. harvoni is proven to cure up to 99% of patients who've had no prior treatment. it's the one and only cure that's one pill, once a day for 12 weeks. certain patients... can be cured with just 8 weeks of harvoni. with harvoni, there's no interferon and there are no complex regimens. tell your doctor if you have other liver or kidney problems, hiv, or other medical conditions, and about all the medicines you take including herbal supplements. taking amiodarone with harvoni may cause a serious slowing of your heart rate. common side effects of harvoni may include tiredness, headache and weakness.
10:53 pm
i am ready to be cured. are you ready? ask your hep c specialist if harvoni is right for you. james drove his rav4 hybrid, unaware death was lurking. what? he was challenged by a team of lumberjacks. let's do this. he would drive them to hard knocks canyon, where he would risk broken legs, losing limbs, and slipping and dying. not helping. but death would have to wait. james left with newfound knowledge, a man's gratitude, and his shirt. how far will you take the all-new rav4 hybrid? toyota. let's go places. not all wrinkles are the same. some wrinkles, like the vertical ones... make you look sad. revitalift from l'oreal even fights the appearance of tough vertical wrinkles. it works! the advanced formula with pro-retinol visibly fights wrinkles plus firms skin.
10:54 pm
"20/20" continues. with a capitol offense. >> reporter: it is a bracing january evening just last friday as cindy gamrat drives her suv to a plainwell, michigan, parking lot. >> it's hard because it's cold out. >> reporter: this, she says, is where she spends her nights when her husband joe comes home from his business trips on short notice. >> but i'll tell you, when it's really cold you wake up, start the car and let it warm up. and i have a sleeping bag and blankets and that, so it stays warmer. >> reporter: today, cindy is preparing for a divorce. even though she cheated, she says it's joe who went too far. with his alleged stalking and
10:55 pm
she says she no longer feels safe to be in the house with him, despite the kids they are raising. as for her future, well, she's help others who have been put under surveillance by their spouses. can come out of this. it's all been so bad. >> reporter: but while the gamrats' marriage is over, he says the scandal made him and fon take a hard look at why their marriage was so troubled. they have now entered counseling in order to form a more perfect union. >> we want to heal our marriage, and -- >> reporter: and that's what i want to ask you about. you forgive him? you know, saying you want to forgive someone is so much easier than actually doing it, and it's a work in progress. >> reporter: it may be true that a house divided against itself and while courser may never again set foot in the state
10:56 pm
have to be good enough. >> if i take my sweater off, i still have a cannonball hole through me. it was a chapter in my life. i think you just keep taking steps forward in life and i'm looking forward to what god has in the future. and each day is a new adventure. >> so, todd courser and his wife trying to make it work. the question tonight, would you do the same? >> let us know on twitter. use #abc2020. i'm elizabeth vargas. >> and i'm david muir. stay warm if you're in the storm zone. have a great weekend. good night.busy friday night in front of the bellagio on the las vegas strip.
10:57 pm
shows metro officers with guns drawn. :05 nats from shooting at one point... you see a group of people ducking.... as more metro officers.... run to the scene.. chopper 13.... first over the scene..... as metro shut down..... a large area of the strip..... as they investigate.... exactly what happened.. here's a different view from our traffic camera.. right in front of the bellagio. you can see metro officers still have that area cordoned off. we have team coverage on tonight's shooting. action news reporters.... david schuman and mahsa saeidi are standing by.. but.. lets get right out to.... bryan callahan.... who's been on the scene for hours.. bryan...
10:58 pm
10:59 pm


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on