If it smells like a power play…

Former Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch told WCCO Radio today she’s never watched (or listened to) the December 2011 press conference at which it was announced she’d resigned her leadership post because of an affair with a staffer.

She says she probably won’t ever watch it. That’s too bad, because looking back at it now, coupled with yesterday’s Star Tribune story, her claim that four of her male colleagues were staging a power play gains at least a fair amount of traction.

“There was a meeting at the Minneapolis Club where I was taken to under false pretenses, and those actors… I think they think their intentions were clear. They knew what they were doing going into it. As more intentions came to light, that became clear. What was particularly difficult to understand was the ferocity,” she told WCCO Radio’s Chad Hartman.

Even before Ms. Koch broke her silence with yesterday’s Star Tribune article, there was a stench around the story and timetable the Republican men — Sen. Chris Gerlach, R-Apple Valley, Sen. David Senjem, R-Rochester, Sen. Geoff Michel and Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie — painted at the news conference announcing Koch’s resignation.

That much was clear when former GOP staffer Cullen Sheehan later acknowledged to MPR’s Tom Scheck that the other Republican leaders knew about the alleged affair three months earlier than the timetable they outlined at the news conference by Sen. Geoff Michel.

At a hearing on his actions last spring, Sen. Michel insisted he played it by the book.

“The comment about the cover-up is political nonsense,” he said. “It was Senate Republican leadership who went to Sen. Koch to confront this. When she stepped down it was Senate Republican leadership who told the public the next day, rather than wait for it to come out in dribs and drabs. This 21st century media…. you guys act quickly.”

Now, however, elements of that story are falling in dribs and drabs.

We now know, for example, that Sen. Michel, in consort with lawyer Ron Rosenbaum (see comments for clarification. Rosenbaum’s involvement was passing Michel’s willingness to meet with WCCO, which came from Todd Rapp. The goal was for Michel to get the info to ‘CCO, but Rosenbaum wasn’t an architect of this), slipped the story of an affair to WCCO TV, apparently to Pat Kessler.

That’s a coup (of a different kind) for Kessler, but it still doesn’t explain the insistence via the Star Tribune story that the leak to WCCO had to occur to help the Republican men get on top of the story. Whatever pressure they claim to have felt in the situation, they intentionally created by leaking the story in the first place.

Compare that to what Sen. David Hann said when he was asked about the news conference announcing Koch’s resignation. “It’s a total surprise,” Hann told MPR News.

A surprise? It shouldn’t have been. Hann was one of the men who set Koch up at the Minneapolis Club.

The men insisted it was Koch who brought up the idea of resigning. But in her interview with the Star Tribune, that’s not how she remembers it:

At the end of the three-hour meeting, Koch said, Hann gave a clear directive: “He said, ‘You are going to resign tonight,’ ” and they were going to fire Brodkorb the next day.

The resignation was announced the next day at a news conference, and Hann told the Star Tribune why the news conference had to be held.

“There were a number of stories that were being circulated that we were aware of that were absolutely not true,” Hann told the Star Tribune. “Things being said needed to be corrected.”

“I think if he was trying to make the situation smaller by doing that, all evidence points very much to the contrary,” Koch said today. She’s right.

It was textbook politics. Create the dribs and drabs by leaking them, and then hold a news conference under the guise of needing to get out in front of the leaked information.

That, for the record, is how a power play works.

  • Bob P

    Koch shouldn’t have gotten into bed…literally…with known bomb Broadkorb. It was an embarrassment to the GOP, who still are smarting from the poor judgment of those two. Koch should stop blaming others for her choice because 3 of the 4 others in that meeting are no longer in the legislature. Who knew what and who had the most to gain is irregardless. She put herself in that position and give the GOP leadership credit for getting her out because it was a big embarrassment for all of them.

  • Bob Collins

    You should listen to the interview (link above) because she addresses the allegation you bring up. She is specifically not blaming her decision to have an affair on anybody else.

    She draws a distinction between the affair and the inconsistencies in the story that led to her downfall.

  • Dimitri D

    Wait, someone used an opponent’s mistake to further their own claim to power?!? Shocking, just shocking. Oh well, will be entertaining, albeit distracting from real issues– although perhaps the lack of character/honesty of Sen. Hann is worth bringing to the fore, given his status as minority leader.

  • Bob Collins

    This is, in fact, an ongoing story of character and dishonesty. I’m not at all convinced that people consider these issues in politicians to be unimportant.

  • Ron Rosenbaum

    For what it’s worth, contrary to Bob Collins report, I did not do anything “in consort” with Geoff Michel. In fact, at the time in question, I had never spoken to or met him. The only person I dealt with was Todd Rapp, an associate of mine, who, like me, worked for Canterbury Park. Rapp called me asking if I knew a reliable reporter I could contact to insure that a story regarding an affair between Amy Koch and MIchael Brodkorb, would be reported accurately. I believe I was called since I handled Racino related media for Canterbury and worked closely with a number of capitol reporters. During our conversation,iRapp indicated to me that Michel was concerned that since so many people around the capitol knew about the affair, it would come out piecemeal doing harm to the legislature. I have no idea if that’s true or not since at the time, I had never met Hann, Gerlach, or Michel. And I also knew few details of the story since I was basically asked to inform Kessler that MIchel would be available to speak with him. One more thing: this occurred in December 2011. Several months later in March of 2012, Amy Koch hired me to be her attorney following complete disclosure of the above facts. Sorry, to disappoint conspiracy theorists but that’s what really happened. I was only a bit player in this drama.

  • Jim Bendtsen

    Poor Amy. Everyone should feel so sorry for her because she and Brodkorb trashed 2 marriages, 2 families, their political careers and did major damage to the MN GOP, the political party they claimed they believed in, for years. Amy Koch is angry, selfish, and in total denial about what she did and damage she’s done. Hopefully, she will never be allowed back into any position in the MN GOP, EVER.

  • BJ

    Perhaps, Ron, you should talk to Amy – and not call other conspiracy theorists. The information that Bob repeated was from her – in the Star Tribune – “At their first meeting, Rosenbaum made a stunning disclosure: While Koch had been releasing her resignation announcement, he — at Michel’s behest — had been calling a reporter at WCCO to leak news of the affair.”

  • Bob Collins

    No, Ron is absolutely right, it was a sloppy sentence — built on the word “consort” — that suggested a directing relationship between Michel and him to Kessler, when it was an intermediary between people Michel knew and people WCCO knew.

    His role, and he made this clear on Twitter after the Strib article appeared, was nowhere near as integral as it first appeared Sunday morning. The Strib article lacked a proper timeline of when all this was happening.

    The conspiracy theorists that he’s talking about, I believe, are the ones who thought that he was advising Koch at the same time he was an intermediary in setting up Michel with WCCO. There’s a brouhaha — or at least there was — on Twitter that I didn’t bother getting into because the actual timeline of this mess almost immediately dismisses such a suggestion.

    All of this is incidental to the bigger picture that’s being played out at this time which is how politicians try to direct information without getting themselves particular messy (or attributed) in the process. But eventually the proper timeline comes out and they look a little rumpled.

  • Barbara

    Every Crisis Presents a Political Opportunity. And senate leaders created the crisis to take an opportunity. When you play with fire you’re probably going to get burned. As a woman in leadership Koch should have held herself to a higher standard than the men. Brodkorb was one of Minnesota’s slimiest political operatives in at least 6 decades. When you lower yourself to the level of a rat, others join in. True statesmen and stateswomen raise the bar for everyone. There are no winners here. They all share in their own misdeeds which add up to one big stink that’s not going to blow away.

  • rm

    Does this mean the opera’s over?