Nonprofit, independent journalism. Supported by readers.


After leaked report, Brodkorb lawyer says he’s broadening lawsuit

Stadium vote may happen; Best Buy ‘super-lawyers’ up; U of M pay packages to be scrutinized; and more.

Let me see if I have this right. A-hard knuckle, anti-big government, anti-nanny state, pro-personal accountability, pro-bootstrapping Tea Party-style conservative strategist … has applied for unemployment benefits … after being “terminated” for  an “inappropriate relationship” in his government job … and has been denied? That’s what Tom Scheck at MPR reported. And now there are even more developments in the Michael Brodkorb case, with his attorney saying Friday afternoon that his client will be “adding an additional claim of invasion of privacy” to his planned lawsuit because of the revelations.

Scheck reported: “The state has rejected former Republican Senate staffer Michael Brodkorb’s request for unemployment benefits. Brodkorb is the former staffer who was fired after he had an affair with his boss, Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch. Brodkorb is appealing the decision to deny him unemployment benefits. It’s the latest twist in the legal dispute between Brodkorb and the Senate, and some say the appeal could provide a glimpse into Brodkorb’s legal strategy as he prepares to sue the state. When a person files for unemployment, the application and the subsequent payments are private under state and federal law. The decision to reject the claim is also private. But an appeal of that decision is public, however, Brodkorb’s lawyer Phil Villaume does not want to talk about it. ‘Anything else that I would comment on is a privileged and private nature,’ Villaume said.” Right … “privileged and private,” just like everything else in this story.

Scheck also has a story saying that House Speaker Kurt Zellers believes there will be a vote on the Vikings stadium funding bill: “Zellers is suggesting the Minnesota House could vote on a Vikings stadium plan before the end of session. Zellers, who has been reluctant to commit to whether the House would vote on such a plan, now says there’s a likelihood it can happen. In an interview with MPR News, Zellers said the Vikings stadium bill cleared both the House Commerce Committee and the House Rules Committee in the past few weeks. … It also comes as the state’s two largest business groups have ramped up their lobbying for the stadium. Lobbyists for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the Minnesota Business Partnership have both confirmed that they are contacting lawmakers on the stadium. Minnesota Business Partnership executive director Charlie Weaver said CEOs of EcoLab, U.S. Bancorp, Wells Fargo and General Mills have all contacted GOP leadership on the issue. ‘It’s not going away,’ Weaver said of the stadium debate. ‘Rep. Zellers is hearing the love of the business community for the stadium on this deal.’ Weaver said the stadium also has the strong support of the state’s labor unions. He said that should help deliver DFL votes to get the deal done.”

The latest from Thomas Lee at the Strib on the Best Buy episode/fiasco has the firm super-lawyering up on the investigation into ex-CEO Brian Dunn: “An elite legal team, including a former U.S. attorney and a former top official with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), is investigating the personal conduct of Brian Dunn, who resigned as CEO this week. Tom Strickland, who served as U.S. attorney for Colorado, and William McLucas, the SEC’s former director of enforcement, have been hired to examine Dunn’s actions, a source close to the company said. Collectively, the pair has handled several high-profile cases, including the Columbine school shootings in Colorado and the accounting scandals at Enron, WorldCom and UnitedHealth Group. … The lawyers’ prominent background suggests that Best Buy’s inquiry extends beyond Dunn’s relationship with a subordinate, said Angela Rud, a principal attorney with Gray Plant Mooty in Minneapolis. If the case were as simple as an inappropriate relationship, the company would turn to a firm with experience in employment law, she said. ‘You wouldn’t hire a former U.S. attorney and [an] SEC official,’ Rud said. ‘This investigation may be the tip of the iceberg.’ “

Pay packages for top U of M administrators are going to get the fine-comb treatment from a new task force. Mila Koumpilova of the PiPress writes: “Regents Chair Linda Cohen has tasked a three-member special committee with scrutinizing U policies on executive compensation, including transitional packages for administrators planning a return to teaching. In recent months, the university has faced an outcry over those packages at a time of rising tuition and student debt. In a series of public meetings starting later this month, the new committee will weigh the need for closer board oversight of compensation. ‘This is an important issue, one that we’re taking very seriously and one that we’ll have a public process on,’ said regent Richard Beeson, who will head the new committee, with regents John Frobenius and Dean Johnson. Back in 2006, a regents presidential compensation committee issued a report that encouraged then-President Robert Bruininks to flesh out principles for setting senior administrator pay and to keep the board chair posted about ‘unusual or exceptional compensation issues.’ For whatever reason, university leaders did not fully follow through on those recommendations.” Can you imagine the artful foot-dragging and obfuscation involved in that one?

What was he thinking? A PiPress team covers the bizarre traffic fatality on the Mendota Bridge Thursday. “[Medard] Prosper was headed east on the Mendota Bridge about 5:30 p.m. Thursday when a tire on his 1998 Nissan Maxima blew out. He drove a little farther before trying to jump from the moving vehicle, according to a preliminary report by the State Patrol. Prosper’s foot got caught, causing him to fall to the roadway and get run over by his car’s rear driver’s side wheel, the State Patrol said. He was declared dead at the scene. ‘It’s obviously a very unusual circumstance,’ said State Patrol spokesman Lt. Eric Roeske. Prosper’s parents were killed in 2007 during a bloody civil war. Prosper, along with six siblings, then embarked by foot on a 500-mile journey to a refugee camp in Tanzania. His 4-year-old sister and 7-year-old brother succumbed to malnutrition and malaria and died along the way. His 9-year-old brother also died of the disease after they reached the camp. Prosper did well academically at a refugee camp school. Through the United Nations, Prosper and his two remaining older brothers relocated to Minnesota.”

Don’t tell the anti-electric car crowd, but St. Paul now has two more places to top off your batteries. Frederick Melo of the PiPress says, “The stations, at North Lexington Parkway by Lake Como and at McMurray Fields, capture solar power and can charge two vehicles at a time. They’re the first city-owned solar-powered charging stations in Minnesota. ‘The systems not only perform great, but they look great, as well,’ [Mayor Chris] Coleman told a crowd of onlookers. The charging stations will charge $1 per hour, allowing drivers to quickly ‘top off’ the batteries that power a car’s electric motor. City officials on Thursday also introduced three new electric vehicles to the city’s fleet. ”

The characters involved may not be marquee names, but the fact that one of them was a top campaign aide to both Michele Bachmann and Tom Emmer makes their Twitter row noteworthy. At the “Dump Bachmann” blog, Ken Avidor writes: “Stalking is scary and creepy. In the past, supporters of Michele Bachmann have accused this blog of stalking her. That is not true. We respect Michele Bachmann’s security and privacy and have condemned unlawful, threatening and intimidating actions against the Bachmanns. Bachmann herself once told the Strib ‘[DB blogger] Eva Young is kind of my personal stalker.’ As it turns out, many of the ‘stalking’ accusations leveled against this blog concern making videos at public events and posting information via public sources about a very public, elected official who recently ran for the highest elected office in the land. But what Jack Tomczak former Political Director for Michele Bachmann’s campaign for Congress and Tom Emmer’s campaign for Governor has admitted doing on his 4/11/2012 ‘Late Debate’ radio show sounds a lot more like the classic definition of stalking. Jack Tomczak apparently got into a scrap on Twitter with University of Minnesota Professor William Gleason. Gleason’s blog has screenshots of Tomczak’s tweets.” Shouldn’t guys like Tomczak be fund-raising for the Brodkorb Defense Fund or something?

Gleason has filed an FCC complaint on the matter.

A perfect addition to your family room … The AP reports: “A New York Mills company is selling assembly kits that allow you to build your own casket for a fraction of the cost of one that you might buy at a funeral home. Patrick Kilby is the owner of A Simple Pine Box. Kilby says his do-it-yourself pine casket kit is $700 — assembly in about an hour. Kilby says the caskets can also be used as furniture before death — maybe a bookcase or table.” It’s a great bar or serving table … until you need it.

The recall election(s) in Wisconsin need constant attention. Patrick Marley and Jason Stein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel write: “The race for governor re-established itself as an air war Thursday, with Republican Gov. Scott Walker launching ads attacking two of his Democratic rivals and a labor group running a new spot for Kathleen Falk. Walker’s return to the air — he hadn’t been running ads for about three weeks — came just days after Falk and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett debuted their ads. Walker’s spots blast the Democrats for their records on jobs — an attack the Democrats called ridiculous given the state’s continued weak economy. … Walker stopped running ads last month, but the Republican Governors Association has been running spots attacking Falk and Barrett. Meanwhile, the labor-backed group Wisconsin for Falk has been running ads for weeks praising Falk, and it debuted a new one Thursday. … a Milwaukee attorney filed a complaint Thursday in hopes of kicking Republicans posing as Democrats off the ballot in the race for governor and five other recalls. … Six Republicans posing as Democrats filed paperwork this week to run in the recall elections against Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and GOP state senators. If they had not executed their plan or one like it, some of the general elections for the recalls would have occurred on May 8, when the primary will be held to determine which Democrat runs against Walker. Republicans wanted to avoid that situation because of the likely heavy turnout among Democrats for the gubernatorial primary. But the plan violates state election law. … Among those running as Democrats is Gladys Huber, an at-large member of the Ozaukee County Republican Party. Huber has not returned phone calls. Not to be outdone, Walker opponent Arthur Kohl-Riggs is running as a Republican to prevent GOP voters from influencing the Democratic primary. No complaint has been filed to remove Kohl-Riggs from the ballot.”