Friday, March 16, 2012

Breaking News from 1858

I really don't want to write about Michael Brodkorb, but since he's not going away quietly, apparently we're going to have to discuss the matter. For those of you who don't know, Brodkorb is a longtime Republican operative who went to work for the Republicans in the state senate in 2011, serving as the communications director for the caucus. At some point during the past year, Brodkorb began an affair with Sen. Amy Koch, who was serving as the Majority Leader.

By the end of the year, the other Republicans in the caucus had enough of this situation and took action. Koch was forced to resign her leadership position and Brodkorb was ashcanned. Now Brodkorb is back with a retinue of lawyers and wants money. And he's willing to expose the Peyton Place that apparently is St. Paul:

Fired Minnesota Senate staffer Michael Brodkorb is threatening to seek sworn statements from legislators and staffers who may have had trysts to prove he was treated differently for having an affair with former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch.

Brodkorb is a longtime GOP operative whose work as a blogger and strategist played a role in bringing Republicans to power at the Capitol. His attorneys say they are prepared to take sworn depositions from romantically linked legislators and subordinates in order to help his potential gender-discrimination lawsuit. Brodkorb is seeking more than $500,000 in damages and legal costs, and his suit is based on what his attorney called "new and creative" legal reasoning.
Just what we need, "new and creative" legal reasoning. So what are we looking at?

The Senate's private attorney dismissed the former staffer's claims as a fishing expedition. But the allegations got the Capitol rumor mill buzzing over whom, precisely, Brodkorb could identify.

Neither Villaume nor a legal document from Brodkorb's side provided any hint of which lawmakers might face deposition, which would be done privately.
Privately, eh? Yeah, sure. Meanwhile, the grey eminences from both parties would rather not go there:

"Not me," said Steve Sviggum, who replaced Brodkorb. Sviggum served as the House Republican leader and then speaker for more than a decade, until 2006. Asked whether he knew of a single lawmaker other than Koch who had an affair with a staffer, he said: "We are going to let the attorneys handle this. You are pushing me in a way I don't want to go."
As for Sviggum's old DFL sparring partner, Roger Moe?

Roger Moe, a DFLer who served as the Senate majority leader for two decades, also demurred about whether he knew of lawmakers who had sexual relations with staffers during his time.

"If I did, I wouldn't tell you," said Moe, now a lobbyist.

Roger that, Roger. I've seen your caucus and I'd rather not think about the implications of knowing such things. So what is the "new and creative" legal theory behind this walk on the sordid side?

At its heart, Brodkorb's legal case is that he was fired even though female staffers who had affairs with lawmakers were kept on or transferred to other state jobs. Brodkorb said he was treated differently, a case of gender discrimination.

"Similarly situated female legislative employees, from both political parties, were not terminated from their employment positions despite intimate relationships with male legislators," his attorneys said.
Well, that's unfortunate if it's true, but you know what? I don't care. I don't know Michael Brodkorb but he has been a major player here for a long time now. His old blog, Minnesota Democrats Exposed, was very effective in rooting out malfeasance and for that, I am grateful. But it's become evident that Brodkorb has lost his perspective here. The reason he went to St. Paul in the first place was to be a reformer. You can't be a reformer with your pants around your ankles.

We've dealt with louts for as long as I can remember. I'm old enough to remember the fates of Wilbur Mills and Wayne Hays, to say nothing of more recent examples like Gary Hart, Anthony Weiner, Mark Foley and countless others. The problem has never been the shtupping per se -- the problem is the abuse of power involved. I suppose it's a measure of progress that we now have female politicians behaving as badly as their male counterparts, but it doesn't excuse any of it. And rather than find out who else has been making the beast with two backs, I'd rather that those involved would just go away.


Anonymous said...

Not sure I would admit to knowing Michael at all, at this point, but I must admit it is "creative reasoning." I don't think the reason for his dismissal was because of the affair; it was because it became KNOWN. That's the risk you take. And there is also the possibility that in rubbing one person the right way, he rubbed a lot of others the wrong way, and you can be fired for that, too.

J. Ewing

Anonymous said...

Talking "Famiely Values" and quite a bit differntly: Check.

Making absurd claims of reverse discrimination: Check.

Complaining about abuse of the legal system, but runnning to court at the drop of a hat: Check.

Sounds like the GOP wheel house to me.;)


First Ringer said...

I think it's fair to say that Micheal has, as the old English saying goes, "lost the plot" but one does have to wonder how either he or Amy Koch thought their affaires de l'Etat would eventually unfold.

The story saddens me but bores me even more. As far as we can tell, no one lied under oath or broke any laws (written or "unwritten"). The affair itself wasn't exactly the classic example of an older, more powerful individual preying on a younger staff member. Anytime politics and sex combine, it's salacious. But it's the equivalent of a political candy bar - sweet to those who oppose the players that be and empty calories all around.

Had Amy "Appalachian Trailed" the affair or tried to get cute under oath about the whole thing, I'd feel much differently.

Mr. D said...

Yeah, I suppose it does fit nicely with the narrative that Democrats prefer, Rich. Although I have to assume it seems amateurish to a Chicago-based observer.

Bike Bubba said...

To me, it suggests a big question of whether Brodkorb values a certain set of political positions, or himself. If you value conservatism, I think you take your lumps. However, if it's your own name you value.....OK, then you want to keep it in the papers, don't you?

For that matter, the subject matter of MDE demonstrates this--wasn't it a bit more about their hypocrisy than about the politics?