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Brodkorb settles lawsuit for small amount, big relief

Lawyer Greg Walsh and Michael Brodkorb
MinnPost file photo by Brian HallidayLawyer Greg Walsh and Michael Brodkorb at
a 2012 press conference.

Michael Brodkorb, former Minnesota Senate communications director, has settled his wrongful-firing case for $30,000, a fraction of the damages he was initially seeking. In an interview, he sounded elated and even victorious.

“There is no amount of money that can make up for having this resolution,” he said.  “This is the first day of waking up with a fresh start.”

Brodkorb was fired in December of 2011 by members of the Republican caucus because of a romantic affair with then-Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch. Koch subsequently resigned her leadership position and did not run for re-election.

Their relationship was the basis for Brodkorb’s lawsuit in which he claimed that other members of the Legislature had engaged in similar liaisons but subordinate staff members were not fired as a consequence.

Brodkorb promised to name those names in depositions and, ultimately, during a trial. The threat appeared to be based in enough fact that it heightened anxiety levels every time a morsel of the pre-trial proceedings became public.

The man who is credited as a highly talented but equally demanding political operative said he understood the burden of unwanted publicity.   “This has been rough on me and my family and it would’ve placed other families under the same kind of scrutiny,” he said. “I’m glad that this will not be coming out in the courtroom.”

$300,000 in legal costs

So are members of the Senate, who authorized the expenditure of more than $300,00 to defend the Senate, which, they maintained, acted appropriately in dismissing Brodkorb. A trial would have provided a constant back-story to the 2014 election cycle.

“We are pleased to have successfully resolved this matter in the best interests of taxpayers and the institution of the Minnesota Senate,” Tom Baak, Senate majority leader, said in a statement.

Senate Minority Leader David Hann added in the same statement: “I am pleased that this agreement acknowledges that the facts of the case do not support any of the claims against the Senate and that the case has been dismissed.”

State Sen. Dave Thompson, a Republican candidate for governor who never had any direct involvement in the case, said it was a “tremendous relief to have the case removed from the political discussion.”

Brodkorb said he feared the lawsuit would harm Republicans chances in 2014. “I didn’t want to see a repeat of what happened in 2012,” he said, referring to the loss of Republican control of the Legislature.    

Settlement terms

Under the terms of the settlement, Brodkorb pays his own legal fees and acknowledges that the facts of the case didn’t support his claim. But the latter point, he said, was a legal technicality “because we were just in the initial phase of discovery.”

Brodkorb expressed puzzlement at the suggestion that the $30,000 settlement was equal to a severance package the Senate had first offered.

“To go back and say that there was at some point an offer of severance, something similar to this, I am lost as to say when this happened,” he said.  “When [former secretary of the Senate Cal] Ludeman met me at a bar to tell me I lost my job, he didn’t come to the table with the severance offer.”

But that is history, as far as Brodkorb is concerned. He said he will concentrate on his political blog, politics.mn, and other projects.

“I’m going to sleep like a baby tonight for the first time in a long time,” he said. “I’ve got my whole life in front of me again.”

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 09/27/2013 - 11:09 am.

    So we should feel good that a delusional tantrum or a cynical attempt at blackmail only cost less than half a million of taxpayers dollars?

    Somehow, when Mr. Brodkorb next fulminates about wasteful spending, I don’t think he’ll remember his own little episode of bleeding the public for private gain.

  2. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/27/2013 - 12:45 pm.

    Legal technicality

    No, Mr. Brodkorb, not having the facts to support your claim is not a “legal technicality.” It is the definition of a lawsuit without merit. It doesn’t matter that you were “just in the initial phase of discovery: You are supposed to have the facts behind you before you start a lawsuit. Discovery is to find out what the other side knows, not to find out if you have grounds for suing.

    Mr. Brodkorb needs to face the facts: He was wrong. He has not, in any sense of the word, been vindicated. All the settlement does is to prevent his temper-tantrum from costing the state more money. He has nothing to be proud of here.

    • Submitted by James Hamilton on 09/27/2013 - 07:39 pm.

      Well said, Mr. Holbrook.

      I’m amazed that Mr. Brodkorb and Mr. Walsh conceded the lack of evidence to support the claim, even with the promise not to sue for costs and attorneys’ fees. Bringing suit without a good faith basis in law and fact violates both Minnesota statutes and the court rules governing civil actions. Mr. Brodkorb has effectivley accused both Mr. Walsh and Mr. Brodkorb’s prior counsel of a breach of professional ethics for which the Minnesota Supreme Court could impose significant sanctions, up to and including disbarment. I hope that the Minnesota Lawyers Board of Professional Resposibility will look into this.

  3. Submitted by Beth-Ann Bloom on 09/27/2013 - 02:07 pm.

    Alternate headline

    Minnesota taxpayers settle lawsuit with big legal bill, no relief

  4. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 09/27/2013 - 02:28 pm.

    My guess is that he was told that he would not be useful in any 2014 or 2016 campaign if the suit was still pending. And, as his lawyer would get a significant portion of any settlement, the amount he could gain from the suit would be less than what he could gain as a “insultant” in the next few campaigns. His claims and action reflected very poorly on himself and would constantly remind the public of his foolishness. So, throw the lawyer under the bus, and get on the GOP gravy train again.

    After all, how can you rant about government waste, fraud and abuse, and a culture of entitlement, irresponsibility and “nanny states” while you are a personification of all you decry.?

  5. Submitted by James Hamilton on 09/27/2013 - 07:41 pm.

    You owe us all an apology, Mr. Brodkorb,

    as well as something in excess of $300,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs.

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