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Brodkorb goes public and claims power grab in state Senate

MinnPost photo by Terry Gydesen
Michael Brodkorb: "The objective was to organize, plan and plot an absolute palace coup. Take out Senator Koch and anyone close to her, which was me."

With the lifting of a gag order in his wrongful-termination case against the Minnesota Senate, Michael Brodkorb has demonstrated that Brodkorb un-gagged is Brodkorb unplugged. 

In an interview with MinnPost on Sunday, the former communications director for the Republican caucus, dismissed for his personal relationship with former Majority Leader Amy Koch, recounted in detail the events that led to his dismissal and disparaged senators who were once his friends and employers.

He made his case that Senate leaders bungled and continue to mismanage the situation, costing the taxpayers plenty in legal fees to defend the civil lawsuit.

Brodkorb said that he was inches away from a settlement this summer when he met with two key lawmakers, Dave Senjem and Julianne Ortmann. “Both Senator Senjem and Senator Ortman said they wanted this resolved,” he said.

But the settlement talks, ordered by a federal magistrate, fell apart in September. That development, Brodkorb said, “absolutely calls into question who is in control at the Minnesota Senate.”

Federal Magistrate Arthur Boylan lifted the gag order in the case Friday and Brodkorb began giving interviews over the weekend to local news organizations, making his case in public first the first time. The lawsuit is now in the motion phase before Boylan.

Details events

In his MinnPost interview, Brodkorb described events that led up to his dismissal in December and charged that a triumvirate of GOP senators — Geoff Michel, Chris Gerlach and David Hann – were involved in a power grab.

After confiding in September of last year to former Senate Chief of Staff Cullen Sheehan about his relationship with Koch, Brodkorb said, the three senators then used that information to oust Koch and take control of the Senate.

“The objective was to organize, plan and plot an absolute palace coup,” he said. “Take out Senator Koch and anyone close to her, which was me.”

Michel, Gerlach and Hann declined to respond. Koch, citing the lawsuit, said she couldn’t comment directly. But when asked if being the first female majority leader affected her tenure, she said: “Pro and con, on both sides of the aisle.”

Koch also wouldn’t comment on whether she developed GOP Senate adversaries because of legislative issues. But Senate Republicans were divided on her and Brodkorb’s work on the Vikings stadium and her support of expanding “racino” gambling.

Brodkorb also riled some of his colleagues during the last months of his job by acting more like a Senate leader than a Senate aide. Brodkorb’s response Sunday to that charge was typical: Go on the offensive. “My place was to be an advocate for and follow through on the directions and instructions of all the members of the leadership and all the members of the caucus,” he said in the MinnPost interview. “I have no problem comparing the work product of the Minnesota Senate from when I was there to what’s there right now.”

Anticipated opponents

Like any good political strategist, when the dispute first surfaced Brodkorb anticipated his opponents’ next move and had an answer to those who wanted him fired. “There is a clear policy and procedure on how this situation should be handled.  Minnesota Senate policy 2.35,” he recites. “I was aware of this policy. It specifically says the Senate does not require termination to avoid the manager subordinate relationship.” 

Brodkorb had the policy ready to email. He also says he has supporting documents and other files.

And, he says, he has the ultimate weapon and is prepared to use it to win his case: The names of other legislators who were involved in similar personal relationships with subordinates.

Further, Brodkorb offered no hope to those who want this story to go away, who want to plug the flow of tax dollars – already at $100,000 – going to the legal defense of the Senate.

And now instead of the two sides talking to each other, at least one is talking to the media. Still, even Brodkorb sounded tired: “This is going to go on for some time.” 

Comments (22)

  1. Submitted by Rich Crose on 10/15/2012 - 11:17 am.

    Republican Circus not Caucus

    They all want to be the ring leader but end up looking like a bunch of clowns.

  2. Submitted by John Wexler on 10/15/2012 - 11:50 am.

    Minnesota TaxPayer Shake Down

    Broadkorp grinning as he grabs the Tax payers by the ankles and shakes them upside down till their dollars and coins come out to pay his lawsuit he created when he was a top leader in the Republican party.

    • Submitted by Michael O'Connor on 10/15/2012 - 04:57 pm.

      Sharp-knife MIke

      MIchael Brodkorb was a sharp knife in the Republican’s arsenal against the Democrats. Now he has turned that knife against his own party. Never mind- this time It is really all about a self-inflicted wound.

  3. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/15/2012 - 11:58 am.

    All I can say is

    It is my sincere hope that Michael enjoys any settlement he gets, if any. Because before this is done, Minnesota leftists will have ensured that it cost him his last shred of dignity…and rightly so.

    • Submitted by Steve Hoffman on 10/15/2012 - 02:13 pm.

      It ain’t the leftists

      “Minnesota leftists will have ensured that it cost him his last shred of dignity” — uh, HE couldn’t keep it in his pants, and that’s the fault of the Minnesota Leftists or possibly a “palace coup” in the Republican party? This man has decidedly learned a lot from Michele Bachmann, who finds a convenient conspiracy to explain everything she doesn’t like.

    • Submitted by Robert Gauthier on 10/15/2012 - 03:13 pm.


      This is a ridiculous assertion. Republicans hired him, fired him and now have hung him out to dry. Your continual victim hood is as pathetic as this case. Man up.

  4. Submitted by mark wallek on 10/15/2012 - 12:02 pm.

    Oh the drama

    How wronged can a family values guy be when caught with another family values individual-female, for the record-having their own not family fun fest? Not wronged at all I say. Let the GOP foot all expenses associated with this prolonged and overloud whine from Brodkorb.

  5. Submitted by Kenneth Kjer on 10/15/2012 - 12:20 pm.


    Although I don’t particularly like him, I am inclined to believe what he is saying. There are a number of arrogant senators, among them Hann, Michels and Gerlach, who act like dictators rather than elected officials. With the current elected GOP it is there way or the highway. It is clear in there reactions to comments from taxpayers, they call them names, belittle people and don’t respond. They should be voted out of office.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 10/15/2012 - 01:23 pm.


      While I don’t doubt that this was a power struggle, it is at odds with his claims of discrimination. Politics is politics, alas. And he got caught with his pants down. It’s a convenient, if dirty, tool to use for a coup. But…it is what it is. Discrimination? Maybe. But not against him.

      I also do agree, for many, many reasons, that those three yokels should be voted out of office. But it’s got little to do with Brodkorb.

  6. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 10/15/2012 - 01:03 pm.

    Fiscal Concervatives in action

    It is okay to spend someone else’s money on folly, just not your own money. $100,000 and still counting. The Fiscal Conservative leadership will be on full display as they work their way through this one trying to keep egg off their face. The transparency the Fiscal Concervatives want from others will not be available without pressure from the press.

  7. Submitted by Peter Mikkalson on 10/15/2012 - 01:32 pm.

    Re: Peanuts and Circuses…

    Please-just give the people what they want; the list of who’s been doing who and then go away. Nobody’s interested in your story and any vids you two may have produced would make me nauseous.

  8. Submitted by Chelle Blakely on 10/15/2012 - 01:34 pm.


    Just curious how a political power grab would be discriminatory? Happens all the time. Maybe if all these males invented something to get rid of the female speaker, that could have been sex discrimination. But Broadkorb as collateral damage? That is really a stretch!

    Not much of a stretch, though, for Broadkorb to threaten to disclose his list of other legislators with “personal relationships” three weeks before an election. Sounds like a bargaining position and the taxpayers may end up paying for his silence.

    • Submitted by Karen Cole on 10/16/2012 - 11:19 am.

      A very good point — no discrimination

      Brodkorb supposedly “riled” some of his colleagues by his personal highhanded style. That has the ring of truth. And he does not seem to deny it. .

      What does that have to do with discrimination?

      • Submitted by Kenneth Kjer on 10/16/2012 - 08:05 pm.

        It is not discrimination

        He is not claiming discrimination, he is claiming wrongful termination. In simple terms it works like this. If somebody comes to work late and gets terminated for it, but the company has never terminated anybody else for being late, it is a wrongful termination. In spite of employment at will, companies and the state have to be consistant in enforcing their policy and procedures or the terminated employee can file an EEO complaint. He is saying that other employees had affairs with their boss and weren’t terminated. If what he is saying is true than he has a legitimate EEO complaint and this is call wrongful termination. In this case it doesn’t make any difference whether the other employees who were not fired were men or women.

  9. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 10/15/2012 - 01:44 pm.

    Interesting ironies

    As others have said, there’s more than a little irony in a “family values” hatchet man – at least, that’s my understanding of his role in the legislature as a staff member and not an elected representative – getting involved with a similarly “family values” legislative leader, both purporting to represent… well… “family values,” though they’re not married to each other (at least not at present), and she, at least, is currently married to someone else. That the adulterer, having made something of a show of his macho-ness in dealing with other legislators while working for the adulteress, should now press claims of unfair treatment because his at-will employment was terminated while, he says, others who’ve engaged in similar behavior have remained employed, smacks of the 3-year-old not being able to have his candy and eat it, too.

    I’m inclined to think that Kenneth Kjer is probably not far off the mark regarding the arrogance of current leadership in the state senate, but I also think there’s probably at least some small point to the not-entirely-equal treatment claimed by Brodkorb for himself, and the implication in the story that Mr. Brodkorb’s partner in adultery also received less-than-equal treatment. The fact that Brodkorb struck me as someone not especially devoted to equal treatment before the law while he was employed simply adds another layer of irony to the whole situation.

    I must say that this kind of badly-played soap opera was NOT something I expected when I moved to Lake Woebegone from the Wild West.

    Meanwhile, “This is going to go on for some time,” he said.

    In the month immediately prior to the election? I certainly hope so.

    I’d like nothing better than to see daily reminders of the constant hypocrisy of the “family values” folks strewn across the ‘Strib’s and PiPress’s front pages, as well as local TV newscasts. Mr. Swift’s reference to “…leftists” somehow being responsible for Mr. Brodkorb being hoist in his own petard is laughable. Whatever public criticism Mr. Brodkorb and Ms. Koch receive will have been well-earned, and from people of all political persuasions. Some, however, will view that criticism as justified, but regretfully so, while others will undoubtedly enjoy a moment or two of schadenfreude.

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/15/2012 - 04:43 pm.

      Ray, perhaps you missed

      The “rightly so” part. Happy to help.

    • Submitted by Richard Pecar on 10/15/2012 - 11:12 pm.

      Can’t stand the repubs, but I love this story…

      I have tried at every turn to keep this one alive to election day. There is lot’s of help now…thanks!

  10. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 10/15/2012 - 02:09 pm.

    Well ‘gag’ me with a spoon…

    …is Brodkorb seeking center stage again?

    Or is Brucato collaboratively initiating a fall serial of stories; part of an ongoing soap series on Mondays?

    Now there’s a fine piece of community journalism…wow.

  11. Submitted by Tommy Johnson on 10/15/2012 - 02:20 pm.

    What this is really all about

    I see it as four Republican State Senators calling a Press Conference in December – and then lying to the media at a presser they called.

    Geoff Michel, boiled down, essentially claimed he lied because he had to. Apparently, he never learned “no comment” or “can’t discuss that” in his political career. Of course, it’s also possible the GOP Legislators are so used to having reporters print their lies verbatim, they figured that why not lie? There’s no penalty from reporters when reporters are lied to.

    The story I’d like to see covered is: “What did Hann & Senjem know, and when did they know it?”

    Of course, based on past performance, there’s no guarantee what they’d say would bear any resemblance to the truth.

  12. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 10/15/2012 - 02:58 pm.

    Another chorus for Springsteen…

    whether it’s Bordkorb himself or the GOP, “We Take Care of Our Own”

  13. Submitted by Diane Nelson on 10/15/2012 - 06:47 pm.

    Were these people

    trying to redefine marriage?

    Thank goodness our Republican friends have an amendment on the ballot so we can once and for all protect the sanctity of marriage!

    • Submitted by William Gleason on 10/15/2012 - 10:02 pm.

      Mr. Brodkorb has just gone full-bore Machiavelli

      and announced on ‘CCO 10 pm news that he will vote NO on gay marriage amendment.

      This after keeping (most) of the GOP sheep in line while serving as Koch’s second in command.

      This guy needs to go work for Mitt Romney.

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