ABC News’ ‘20/20: A Capitol Offense’ focuses on a shocking sex scandal in Michigan that involved two former conservative lawmakers, Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat. In August 2015, a news report indicated that the former sent out a salacious email about himself to draw attention away from a potential leak about his affair with Cindy. This came to light after Ben Graham, Todd’s former aide, made public an audio recording of his conversation with him. On the show, Ben, and Cindy’s former aide, Keith Allard, talk about how the affair affected their work and what happened in the aftermath. So, if you’re curious about the same, here’s what we know.
Who Are Keith Allard and Ben Graham?
At the time of the incident, Keith Allard was Cindy’s House aide, while Ben Graham was Todd’s. Cindy and Todd were conservative legislators and, in the months before the scandal became public, had combined their offices in an unusual move. There were rumors about their affair, and Ben, Keith, and Joshua Cline, a legislative director who worked for the former lawmakers, were against it because it affected their work.
Joshua later said, “Everything in the office was done and intertwined around their relationship — from time management to who’s going to get what bills.” Then, on May 19, 2015, Ben stated that Todd asked him to come to his office to discuss something important. The former said, “He’s like, ‘I need you to destroy me. Can you come to my office?’ I asked him what was going on; he said, ‘I can’t tell you; come to my office.'”
However, before that, Ben met Keith to talk about it. Keith said, “This is a guy (Todd) who has been showing increasingly unstable signs … in terms of his anger issues and communications towards us. There’s a 20 percent chance he might act out violently toward himself or others, and he kept a loaded gun in that office, so I advised Ben ‘record the conversation.'” Later, Ben and Keith stated they felt it was possible Todd could kill himself.
Ben divulged during a hearing in 2016, “I thought he (Todd) might possibly harm himself. If I was there with a smoking gun and body, the recording would help.” Regarding why he asked Ben to record the conversation, Keith said, “I feared for Ben. I didn’t want him to be left in a room with a body and no (explanation).” But when the former went to Todd’s office, he could never have imagined what he would be asked to do.
Earlier that day, Todd and Cindy had received messages from an anonymous sender who threatened to go public about their extramarital relationship. He wanted Ben to email all the Republicans about Todd being caught having sex with a man behind a nightclub in Lansing. The legislator felt that the email could work to make it appear like there was a smear campaign against him and would take the attention away from his affair with Cindy.
The recording, later made public, had Ben saying, “This is a crazy way to deal with this situation. Normally, people just like front it off, head it off themselves and say ‘Hey, this happened’ or quietly resign and go away.” At the time, Todd wanted Ben to take a sick day on May 20, 2015, and send the email. While Ben asked for some time to think about it, he ultimately refused to participate. Ben texted Todd that night, “This kind of stuff never stays hidden. It’s going to blow up, and I can’t help cover it up. My best advice, consider resigning. You may be able to protect Cindy and her family and your family.”
Nevertheless, Todd went ahead and sent the email. Ben also recorded another conversation with both legislators on May 21, 2015. In it, they are heard apologizing to him, and Cindy urges him to keep quiet about the affair. Then, in July 2015, Ben and Keith were fired despite receiving a raise preceding the incident. After that, the two decided to go public with their recording and information.
Where Are Keith Allard and Ben Graham Today?
In the days after the news report about Todd’s bizarre cover-up plot was published, he accused Ben, Keith, and Josh of being part of a blackmail plot against him. He further alleged that they bugged and wiretapped the combined office after the House Speaker asked them to. In response, all of them denied the allegations. In October 2015, Ben and Keith sued Todd and Cindy for wrongful termination. Furthermore, a couple of months later, they filed a federal whistleblower suit against the Michigan House of Representatives.
In November 2016, Ben and Keith settled, each receiving around $170,000 in addition to the House covering their legal costs. Today, Ben lives in Davison, Michigan, and owns Graham’s Great Beginnings. Apart from that, he previously worked as a rough farmer and was a Partner and Director of Technology at Bellwether Strategies. Ben has a degree in Public Administration from Cedarville University in Ohio. As for Keith, he ran as an independent in the 2012 and 2014 Michigan House of Representatives elections but lost. He currently lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and is active on Twitter.
Read More: Where is Todd Courser Now?