Senate panel approves spending $84,683 in legal fees in Brodkorb case

Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem discusses the $85,000 legal bill related to former GOP staffer Michael Brodkorb with the Senate Rules Committee.

Senate Republicans on Wednesday authorized a nearly $85,000 legal-bill payment to cover potential litigation from a former GOP caucus staffer, ignoring DFL objections about the amount owed before a lawsuit had even been filed.

The Senate Rules Committee voted along party lines to approve the $84,683 bill, which comes from private attorneys preparing a legal defense against Michael Brodkorb, the former communications director for the Senate Republicans. Brodkorb was fired after GOP leaders revealed in December that former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch had an inappropriate relationship with a staff member.

Brodkorb has indicated he may sue the Senate for wrongful termination and could name other lawmakers and female staff members who’ve had affairs in the past. The potential for a broad and lengthy lawsuit caused Democrats on the Rules Committee to question whether taxpayer dollars should go toward what they called a Republican issue.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, a DFLer, urged Republicans to set up a legal defense fund to raise money for the lawsuit.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk suggested Republicans set up a legal defense fund for the Brodkorb legal bills at a Senate Rules Committee Meeting on Wednesday.MinnPost photo by James NordSenate Minority Leader Tom Bakk suggested Republicans set up a legal defense fund for the Brodkorb legal bills at a Senate Rules Committee Meeting on Wednesday.

“This all stems out of internal caucus politics — who the majority leader is going to be — and I’m troubled obligating the taxpayer for something that really is internal,” he said. “I’m not asking the Republican Senate caucus to pay this bill. I’m just saying I think you in the majority should pursue the idea of a legal defense fund. This could be a lot of money and a long time.”

He also questioned how high the bill would get.

“I don’t have any interest in settling this out of court. I don’t think the Senate did anything wrong, but the cost of defending ourselves — who knows where this is going?”

Bakk’s remarks, which echoed concerns from other DFLers on the committee, caused a flustered Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem to try to rein him in. Republicans have skirted the issue in other meetings related to the Brodkorb scandal, citing concerns that revealing too many details could put the Senate at a disadvantage in the event of a lawsuit.

He was also tight-lipped with reporters after the quick vote to approve the funding, declining to say if the Senate would attempt to settle with Brodkorb.

“I can’t even go there,” Senjem said. “I’m very limited in what I can say.”

Senjem also said “at this moment, the answer is ‘no,’ ” to a legal defense fund.

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 06/20/2012 - 03:24 pm.

    ….the answer is ‘no’ to a legal defense fund….

    I can understand why. The last time the GOP “set up” a legal fund, they stiffed the lawyers.

  2. Submitted by Danny Urban on 06/20/2012 - 04:55 pm.

    Who got screwed here?

    Send the bill to Amy Koch and the GOP for lack of leadership!!

  3. Submitted by Annie Grandy on 06/20/2012 - 05:48 pm.

    Open ended legal defense spending?

    I notice no limit was specified, just use tax dollars to pay the bill. And the GOPs have nominated as their senate candidate in SD44, David Gaither, who as I recall, just like Newt Gingrich, cheated while married to his first wife with his second and then left the Pawlenty administration under a cloud of scandal having something to do with the MOA. Seems GOPs have found a new way to bankrupt the state and destroy government; open ended legal defense spending to deal with the aftermath of their scandalous behavior.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 06/20/2012 - 11:24 pm.

      Can we sue?

      Like a taxpayers class action suit to stop their spending or something like that?

      Or just like so many other things, are we forced to wait until November and hope the electorate’s memory lasts all the way to the ballot box?

      They sure are generous with OTHER people’s money, aren’t they?

  4. Submitted by mark wallek on 06/21/2012 - 09:37 am.

    Double my yearly income

    With it getting harder and harder to keep up with increases when there is no raise or cost of living adjustment (as our state employees recieve) this sort of waste is really difficult to swallow. The man could not keep his pants on. The woman felt entitled to a saucy perk to compliment her power. Now my tax dollar is paying his legal fee? The next time the water/sewage bill rises again I’ll work out how I’ll cover the increase. Now would be a good time to imprison these amourous individuals for betraying their own spin about being “servants of the people.” What we were served I simply cannot any longer afford, and niether can the state or the nation.

  5. Submitted by Logan Foreman on 06/21/2012 - 09:43 am.

    Just call

    The Koch brothers and ALEC for money for the “legal defense fund”. The Republican Senate majority has supported most of their ideas and bills, so surely they will pay the majority’s legal fees for a sex scandal.

  6. Submitted by Jim Roth on 06/21/2012 - 11:53 am.

    Abuse of taxpayer dollars

    As best I can recall these GOP legislators were elected on promises to “focus like a laser beam on jobs and the economy.” As is often the case they failed miserably at their claimed focus and now turn to the taxpayers to pay for the mess before becomes even more embarrassing for them. Nice work on focusing on jobs and the economy, ehh…

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