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GOP senators to vote Tuesday on Amy Koch replacement

MORNING EDITION ALSO: National media pick up scandal; GOP’s “worst-case scenario”; more on Brodkorb; Stillwater’s “Taboo Goddess”; and more.
Read Tuesday Afternoon Edition


While you and I are in line returning weird or wrong-size gifts next week, state GOP leaders will be huddled picking a successor to Amy Koch. Megan Boldt and Doug Belden of the PiPress write: “Senate Republicans announced Tuesday they’ll elect a new caucus leader next week to replace Amy Koch, who resigned from leadership abruptly last Thursday and has not commented on allegations aired the next day that she had an improper relationship with a Senate staffer. The election will be held next Tuesday morning in St. Paul. Koch could not be found Tuesday afternoon at her home or workplace in Buffalo, about an hour northwest of the Twin Cities, and she did not respond to requests for an interview left in those locations.”

Well, it has taken a few days. But the national media are picking up on the Amy Koch scandal. At the Huffington Post, Scott Wooledge facetiously suggests the public vote on Ms. Koch’s marriage: “Under Amy Koch’s majority leadership, the Minnesota Senate voted to amend the Minnesota Constitution to declare that ‘a marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in Minnesota.’ Koch, of course, voted for the bill herself. And so, the amendment, having cleared the state House and Senate, will move to the voters of Minnesota on Nov. 6, 2012, who will be asked to vote on whether their fellow citizens should be (further) forbidden by law to marry the person they love. I don’t remember voting on Amy Koch’s marriage. Is it too late? See, some news has surfaced that begs the question: should defenders of the sanctity of marriage consider voting Koch out of their sacred matrimonial club?” He notes that Tom Prichard of the Minnesota Family Council has been emphatic about enforcing the state’s adultery laws. “Prichard was not only opposing repeal of the adultery law but calling for it to be strengthened: ‘Tom Prichard, MFC’s president, said these laws are essential because ‘they send a message. … When you are dealing with a marriage, it’s not just a private activity or a private institution. It’s a very public institution. It has enormous consequences for the rest of society.’ I have full confidence we can now expect Tom Prichard to call upon the state to conduct a thorough investigation if the law of Minnesota has been violated. Enforcing the adultery statute vigorously will send an important message, after all. The ‘consequences’ of letting scofflaws go unpunished are ‘enormous’ to ‘the rest of society,’ I am told. The fate of marriage and society hangs in the balance.”

Patrick Condon’s AP story is running in a number of places around the country. He says: “The worst-case scenario for Republicans: that donors will see the party as a bad investment, diverting resources that might have been spent making the Obama campaign defend once-friendly turf; and that grass-roots activists, turned off by scandal and dysfunction, will sit out the election cycle. While a Republican presidential campaign ‘will invest in Minnesota if it thinks they can win it, they will also look at how well the party is doing its basic functions — identifying Republicans, getting out the vote,’ Scott Cottington, a St. Paul-based political consultant who works on GOP campaigns around the country, said Tuesday. ‘They will make a decision based in part on the strength of the collective effort’. … Obama dispatched John McCain handily here, and the party no longer holds a single statewide elected office. So far, Republicans have failed to recruit any formidable opponent for Klobuchar. And few talk with confidence of Minnesota as a presidential pickup opportunity the way they do neighboring states like Iowa and Wisconsin.”

At MPR, Catharine Richert adds just a bit more on the firing of Koch aide Michael Brodkorb: “[Senate Secretary Cal] Ludeman and Brodkorb spoke briefly Thursday night, hours after Koch announced her resignation. Brodkorb was her chief spokesman. ‘I was trying to get him to come to me,’ Ludeman said. ‘I would always prefer to do these kinds of things in person, not over phone or e-mail.’ Brodkorb’s employment status came up during that conversation, but Ludeman said he didn’t know at the time that he would have to let Brodkorb go. ‘I was actually reaching out to him to see if he [had] any reason to talk to me because I thought maybe he would have understood his position relative to [Koch’s],’ Ludeman said. But it wasn’t until Friday at noon that Ludeman knew he would be telling Brodkorb he was out of a job. … Though the rules of the Senate make Ludeman the employer of all Senate workers, including Brodkorb, Ludeman said he made the Brodkorb decision on the recommendation of the Senate’s leadership team.”

Strib columnist Jon Tevlin “reached out” to Brodkorb. He writes: “[A]a few odd comments that Brodkorb posted on Twitter. The first was his take of the political thriller movie “Blow Out,” about a witness to a crime who, “as he struggles to survive against his shadowy enemies and expose the truth, he doesn’t know whom he can trust.” Highly recommended, Brodkorb wrote shortly after his removal. Two days later Brodkorb mused on Twitter: ‘I’ve actually got a nice little Saturday planned; exercise, Planet of the Apes, Fright Night, maybe I’ll hit Bed Bath & Beyond.’ I e-mailed Brodkorb to make sure his posts were legitimate. He responded that they were, declined to comment and thanked me for ‘reaching out’. … [Wy] Spano said he’s noticed that a more arm’s length relationship between the caucuses and parties has been ignored by Sutton and Brodkorb in recent years, making the two inextricably linked. Brodkorb, a former blogger, ‘brought this kind of wildly negative perspective’ to the party, Spano said. He hopes that as the Republicans rebuild with new blood, they bring back a debate that ‘revolves around normal issues again.’ ‘I think the whole sense of politics has been destroyed among normal people,’ Spano said.”

Today in Bachmannia: Influential Iowa evangelical Republican Bob Vander Plaats is denying that he called Our Gal and told her to “merge” with … well, Rick Santorum. Says Mark Zdechlik at MPR: “Politico, citing unnamed sources, first reported that Vander Plaats, president and CEO of Christian activist group The Family Leader, made that request during a telephone call with Bachmann on Saturday. Bachmann 2012 spokeswoman Alice Stewart said Vander Plaats ‘asked her [Bachmann] to merge with another candidate.’ Stewart said the evangelical leader, ‘didn’t say whether she [Bachmann] should be #1 or #2,’ just that she should ‘consider the possibility of merging with another candidate.’ Stewart said Vander Plaats did not say which candidate or candidates Bachmann should consider teaming with, but did ‘hint’ that she should look toward Santorum or Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Stewart said Vander Plaats said the best way to beat former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was for the strong faith candidates to merge and go against Romney.” I’m sorry. The words “merge” and “Rick Santorum” create a disturbing image for me.

The “Taboo Goddess” of Stillwater says the cops lied. Mary Divine of the PiPress reports: “The woman who ran the ‘Taboo Goddess’ dominatrix business in Stillwater claims police lied in an affidavit to obtain a warrant to search the business. Kristal Taylor told Judge Susan Miles in Washington County District Court on Tuesday that she had recently contacted clients who were stopped by police after leaving the business in August and September 2010, and they provided to her notarized statements that were different from what was included in police reports. ‘This whole thing is filled with lies,’ Taylor said. ‘I don’t even know where to start.’ “

Forty former employees and investors in Tom Petters’ various schemes are going to have to hand back $8 million. David Phelps of the Strib writes: “A federal bankruptcy judge Tuesday approved clawback settlements exceeding $8 million from former employees, directors and strategic partners who received bonuses from various entities of the Tom Petters corporate estate, including Polaroid. … The proposed settlements, which were previously reported, were filed at the end of November after several months of negotiations between the trustees and the individuals.”

Over in Wisconsin, the use of a “small businessman” in a TV commercial supporting Gov. Scott Walker for supporting business and creating jobs has come back to bite the Walker camp. Blogger Jud Lounsbury at “Uppity Wisconsin” writes: “[F]or the fifth month in a row, Wisconsin has led the nation in jobs — lost AND that another large (and very profitable) company — Thermo Fisher — is closing its plant in Two Rivers as part of a larger transition toward non-American labor in Mexico and elsewhere. In the midst of this carnage, Walker has the nerve to put up an ad with ‘Chris’ who is purportedly a small business owner that is extolling the virtues of Scott Walker’s job-creatin’ business utopia … that is losing more jobs than other state. Well, it turns out that ‘Chris’ is Chris Rebholz, aka the King of Infomercials.  Chris made a name for himself, as well as a gazillion dollars, selling products almost exclusively made in China, to Americans via infomercials. Name a product you’ve seen sold on TV, and the odds was pretty good that it was one of Rebholz’s Tristar products. … Here’s how Rebholz described what it is he does [on] BizTimes.Com recently: “Traditional companies are downsizing and looking to outsource some of their workload to companies like ours.”
Yes, you heard that right folks — Walker’s job-promotin’ carny barker helps companies with their — ’downsizing.’ Here’s the kicker, though:  Rebholz is also a member of the ‘China Business Council’ which features on their logo a Chinese flag placed in front and almost completely covering-up the American flag below it. As the name suggest, the Chinese Business Council helps facilitate the manufacturing of products in China and then selling them in the United States.”