Attorney confirms staffer Brodkorb link to Sen. Koch

8:38 AM, Mar 15, 2012   |    comments
  • Michael Brodkorb, on the left, in 2011
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - The attorney for former senate communications chief Michael Brodkorb told the Associated Press Wednesday night that his client is the previously unnamed staffer with whom Sen. Amy Koch had a relationship.

That confirmation is contained in a notice of claim Phil Villaume filed Tuesday with the state, to lay the ground work for a wrongful termination case Brodkorb is likely to bring against the Senate.

Sen Koch, a Republican from Buffalo, abruptly stepped down from her leadership post in December. Two days later a group of fellow senators confirmed media reports that the married Senator had been involved in an "inappropriate relationship" with a staff member.

Koch eventually apologized to her fellow senators and the public through a series of letters and interviews, but never publicly named the other person involved.  Koch did not respond Wednesday evening to inquiries by the Associated Press.

Brodkorb, who was communications director the Senate Republican Caucus and Koch's executive assistant, was fired by Senate Secretary Cal Ludeman one day after Koch left her post.

The former high-profile staffer will have to take his wrongful termination case to the court system.  Secretary Ludeman issued a letter Wednesday announcing that Senate leaders will not enter into mediation with Brodkorb seeking to settle the dispute out of court.

In his letter, Ludeman wrote that Brodkorb has failed to give any reason why he disputes his termination.  And Ludeman points out that as an "at will" employee Brodkorb doesn't qualify for the built-in administrative hearing process available to civil service workers hired by the state.

Villaume issued his own letter responding to Ludeman Wednesday, saying the secretary's statement to the press was incorrect and dishonest.

In an earlier conversation with KARE, Villaume called Ludeman's letter a "gross misrepresentation" of the situation. Villaume told KARE that Brodkorb's legal team had been in ongoing negotiatons with Dayle Nolan, an attorney representing the Senate.

In his letter Villaume quoted a March 9 email message from Nolan, which red, in part, "I need to quickly run your proposed changes past my client, but they seem reasonable to me so I don't anticipate there will be any problem."

Villaume said as of Tuesday night he had reached an agreement with Nolan, who is part of the Larkin-Hoffman law firm, to begin the mediation process after the 2012 session ends.

"We had an agreement last night," Villaume said. "And today suddenly that was yanked off the table and this letter was released. This is a total surprise!"

The next step for Brodkorb is to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or E.E.O.C., alleging wrongful termination based on gender discrimination.

"The claim will be that he was treated differently, or in a disparate fashion, compared to female employees with matching circumstances," Villaume said.

If the EEOC agrees with Brodkorb he'll then have the right to sue the Minnesota Senate in federal court. His lawyers contend that a mediated agreement is a preferable path. 

Brodkorb first made the spotlight with his blog Minnesota Democrats Exposed, and in that capacity played a key role in revealing that former Minority Leader Matt Entenza had hired researchers in 2006 to gather information about former Attorney General Mike Hatch.

In 2008 Brodkorb uncovered Al Franken's problems with unpaid state taxes in several states where he had performed as a comedian and political satirist. Franken worked through accountants and attorneys to rectify the situation, and eventually won the senate race.

Brodkorb resigned as deputy chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota, so that he could volunteer on the congressional campaign of Sen. Mike Parry.  But Parry announced he was no no longer using Brodkorb as a consultant after his termination was made public.

(Copyright 2012 KARE and The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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