Michael Brodkorb, a former Republican staffer for the Minnesota State Senate, filed suit against the State of Minnesota, the Minnesota Senate, and Secretary of the Senate Cal Ludemann on Monday.
Brodkorb, who served as communications director for the Minnesota Senate GOP, as well as state party vice chair, was dismissed last year after an affair between him and then-Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, came to light.
Brodkorb was fired after the relationship came to light. Koch stepped down from her leadership position and is not seeking reelection.
Brodkorb sued, saying that he was discriminated against because he was a male staffer. Brodkorb threatened the lawsuit in March, saying, “Similarly situated female legislative employees, from both political parties, were not terminated from their employment positions despite intimate relationships with male legislators.”
“Senator Koch will testify that Brodkorb’s employment was terminated by the Republican Leadership because of the intimate relationship between Senator Koch and Brodkorb, as will other legislators and legislative staffers,” the suit says.
Brodkorb is also suing Ludemann for saying Brodkorb was attempting to “disrupt” the Senate, and was looking to “extort” and “blackmail” the Republican caucus. Brodkorb has said that he will seek at least $500,000 in damages.
Minnesota legislative staffers are “at-will” employees, meaning they can be fired at any time. Republican leaders have said the suit is without merit.
According to a report by the Star Tribune, Brodkorb attorney Phillip Villaume said he was “disappointed” that a suit was going forward, and that he and Brodkorb had hoped to settle.
“Considering that the Minnesota Senate has already spent nearly $100,000 in legal fees simply ‘preparing’ for a lawsuit to be filed must raise significant questions for the taxpayers,” Villaume said.
The Senate Rules Committee, which is controlled by the Republican Party, has approved $85,000 on legal fees so far.
Current Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, has previously said that the Senate GOP is torn between settling for hundreds of thousands of dollars, or paying hefty legal fees to go to court.
“It’s just how much time do you put into something like this versus how much do you get out of it?” Senjem said.
Today’s suit marks yet another turn in the strange saga of the Minnesota Republican Party. The party was left in dire financial straits by former chair Tony Sutton, who headed the party during the time Brodkorb served as vice chair. The party came close to eviction from their headquarters in Saint Paul, and a criminal complaint has been filed against Sutton for his role in shady bookkeeping during the recount in the 2010 gubernatorial election.
Brodkorb rose to prominence as the blogger behind Minnesota Democrats Exposed, which specialized in thinly-sourced and downright baseless attacks against Democratic candidates for office. The ongoing battle between Brodkorb and the Republican leadership has been seen as karmic justice by many liberal stalwarts in the state.
It remains to be seen whether Brodkorb will follow through on his threat to expose other staffers who have had affairs with legislators, but if past history is any indication, morals won’t be the hold-up. The lawsuit is the last thing the GOP needs going into the fall, when they’ll be defending their majority in the Senate for the first time in modern history.
Image Credit: Ed Kohler