In a 27-minute audio file posted online, Republican Michigan Rep. Todd Courser apologized to his family, constituents and the family of the fellow lawmaker with whom he allegedly had an affair, and he also accused some of his former employees of conspiring to bring him down through an elaborate blackmail scheme that he said he was trying to expose.
was a response to a Friday report
from the Detroit News, which Courser called a "hit piece," that claimed the lawmaker sent an email from a pseudonym in May to other state House Republicans describing a fake scandal in which Courser paid for sex with a male prostitute. The email supposedly was an attempt to cover up an affair Courser was allegedly having with fellow Republican state Rep. Cindy Gamrat.
Courser is married with four children, and Gamrat is married with three children.
In the statement released Monday, Courser does not deny any of the Detroit News article, instead saying he wanted to tell his side of the story, adding he "owe[d]" it to everyone to hear it in his "own words."
"My actions in and around these events and the email that was sent to misdirect attention were my doing both in planning and execution. No one else has the responsibility in those actions, they are mine and mine alone to carry," Courser said.
He detailed a frenzied set of events dating back to May 19, when he began to receive anonymous text messages attempting to blackmail him with intimate personal information. He said he decided to send the email while in a "pressure cooker" state of mind based on little sleep and food to try to force the blackmailer to tip their hand.
"It was not my finest moment," he said. "It was the only option I felt would be unpredicted by the blackmailer."
Courser accused two former members of his staff, who were let go previously, with an elaborate scheme to spy on him and record him to bring him down.
He implied they were part of the establishment in the Michigan capital and he was being targeted for not falling in line.
"I can say nothing prepared me for the caustic nature of the Lansing mafia," Courser said. "The entirety of the state House and state government is controlled and manipulated for the political advantage and to the benefit of the establishment powers."
Those former staffers released a joint statement after his accusations came out.
"Attempts to blame others instead of accepting responsibility is unfortunate," the statement released Monday said, according to the Detroit news.
"We look forward to cooperating with any investigation to ensure that taxpayers are protected and faith in our institutions can be restored. Most important, an investigation will reveal the truth."
In refusing to resign, Courser portrayed himself as a crusader for liberty, standing up to his blackmailers and the "mafia."
"I chose and I have chosen to stay and to make them play their hand, and whatever that brings on me that brings," Courser said. "I feel that it is absolutely essential for the cause of liberty to have these clandestine operations to control public officials exposed. So I refuse to leave quietly and have decided that these efforts really need to come out."
At the end of the recording, he released the phone number of the alleged blackmailer and encouraged the public to get involved.
Neither Courser or Gamrat's campaign immediately responded to a request for comment.