Republicans in the Minnesota Senate weren’t saying much Friday about a potential lawsuit from former staffer Michael Brodkorb.
Reporters peppered Republican Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem and Deputy Majority Leader Julianne Ortman with questions about the potential lawsuit, whether affairs occurred between staffers and lawmakers, and whether the Senate would be responsible for legal costs.
“You can ask all you want but we are not going to comment on that,” Ortman said.
She said the Senate, like many private companies, is an employer and sometimes has to deal with legal issues from current and past employees. Senjem said the Senate doesn’t have a contingency fund or insurance to pay for lawsuits.
Brodkorb’s attorneys said yesterday that they were pursuing legal action against the Senate for wrongful termination. They said Brodkorb was fired for having an affair with his boss, then-Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch. The attorneys said Brodkorb is a victim of discrimination because other female staffers had affairs with lawmakers and weren’t dismissed.
In a separate news conference Friday, DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk said the allegations have brought “dishonor” to the Senate.
“All of the Brodkorb allegations and the things that became public bring a great deal of dishonor to our institution, and I’m very concerned about that,” Bakk said. “I don’t want to do anything that piles on that. It’s not a good time for the Minnesota state Senate.”
Bakk said he thinks the Senate will win if Brodkorb decides to sue. Senate Secretary Cal Ludeman, the chief operations officer in the Senate, said Brodkorb was terminated because he was an “at will” employee and the will to keep him employed wasn’t there anymore when Koch resigned her position as majority leader in December.
Brodkorb is seeking at least $500,000 in damages.