Former Minnesota Senate Communications Director Michael Brodkorb has hired the legal firm of Villaume & Schiek. Even though he has yet to file a lawsuit, the firm says it will serve as co-counsel with attorney Greg Walsh.
Philip Villaume, who is an expert in employment law, told MPR News today that Brodkorb is reviewing his legal options regarding his dismissal.
Brodkorb was fired a few hours after it was revealed that former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch had an “inappropriate relationship” with a male staffer. Koch resigned her position as majority leader one day before the allegations surfaced. The identity of the staffer has not been disclosed. Walsh said “no comment” when asked if Brodkorb was the staffer in question.
Villaume said Brodkorb will not be filing a lawsuit against Koch but may sue the Minnesota Senate and the State of Minnesota.
“We’re in the process of looking at the option of litigation but we’d like to mediate the matter before we litigate it,” Villaume said. He also said Dayle Nolan with the law firm of Larkin Hoffman is representing the Minnesota Senate as outside counsel in the matter.
Cal Ludeman, who serves as the Secretary of the Minnesota Senate,was unavailable to comment on the hiring of outside counsel and how much it’s costing the state. Senate Republican Caucus spokesman Steve Sviggum said he didn’t know about the hiring of the firm but would look into it.
Cal Ludeman, who serves as Secretary of the Minnesota Senate, confirmed to MPR News that he hired Nolan to represent the Senate. He said he has the authority to hire outside counsel in his role as Secretary of the Senate. Citing attorney/client privilege, Ludeman said he didn’t have to provide a copy of the contract. But he said he would have to detail any public money that is spent on the attorney.
“We’re not to the point of receiving any invoice or any billing about that,” Ludeman said. “When we do we’ll be telling the leadership of the State Senate and the rest of the world what those costs are.”
Ludeman also responded no when asked whether they would pursue mediation regarding Brodkorb’s dismissal. He said they’re still trying to figure out what, if any, legal action Brodkorb will take.
“We don’t even know what this is about,” Ludeman said.
Ludeman told MPR News last month (and again today) that the Senate dismissed Brodkorb because he was an “at-will” employee who worked for Sen. Koch. He said the will was no longer there to keep Brodkorb on staff when Koch stepped down. “At-will” means employees can be fired at any time, without warning for nearly any reason.
Here’s the release from Villaume’s firm:
(Bloomington, MN) – Today, the law firm of Villaume & Schiek, P.A. announced they have been retained by Mr. Michael B. Brodkorb to serve as co-counsel in representing Mr. Brodkorb in potential legal action related to his employment at the Minnesota Senate. Attorneys with Villaume & Schiek, P.A. will work with Gregory Walsh with the law firm of Walsh & Gaertner, P.A., as was previously announced.
“As stated by Mr. Walsh, we’ve been ascertaining details surrounding events leading up to and immediately following Mr. Brodkorb’s departure from the Minnesota Senate and our client has been reviewing his legal options,” said Mr. Villaume.
“If the decision were made to purse legal action against the Minnesota Senate, former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch would not be the defendant of any litigation. Our firms look forward to working with counsel recently retained by the Minnesota Senate to resolve any legal issues related to Mr. Brodkorb’s employment with minimal disruption to the current legislative session,” concluded Mr. Villaume.