Updated 1:15 p.m.
Former Minnesota Senate staffer Michael Brodkorb claims he was fired because of an affair with former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and intends to prove other employees who had trysts with legislators were allowed to continue working.
“Mr. Brodkorb has evidence that similarly situated female legislative employees, from both political parties, were not terminated from their employment positions despite intimate relationships with male legislators. It is clear that Mr. Brodkorb was terminated based on his gender,” the legal document said.
In preparation for the lawsuit, Brodkorb's legal team is prepared to dig deep into the romantic lives of legislators and staffers.
“He intends to depose all of the female legislative staff employees who participated in intimate relationships, as well as the legislators who were party to those intimate relationships, in support of his claims of gender discrimination,” his attorney said in the document setting up Brodkorb’s reason for a possible wrongful dismissal lawsuit.
His attorney, Phil Villaume, said that those depositions would be done in private to protect the identity of those involved. Vallaume said the depositions were not a threat but a legal necessity.
Brodkorb was Koch’s executive assistant and communications director when he was let go last December, the day after she resigned. Brodkorb was fired in a restaurant away from the Capitol the same day Republican senators spoke publicly of her “inappropriate relationship” with a male staffer.
Long a GOP insider, Brodkorb made his mark in politics by digging up sometimes unflattering information on rivals, usually Democrats.
Senate officials have said Brodkorb’s claim of wrongful termination, “are without any merit whatsoever.”
Secretary of the Senate Cal Ludeman said Wednesday that Brodkorb was attempting to “blackmail” the Senate, disrupt its work, and “extort” payment.
“The Senate handled Mr. Brodkorb’s termination properly,” Ludeman said.
Brodkorb’s legal document says that Ludeman told Brodkorb he was fired because Koch resigned as majority leader and because Brodkorb had an affair with her.
On Thursday, Ludeman repeated that Brodkorb had been an "at will" employee and was dismissed because Koch was no longer in leadership and it had nothing to do with the affair he had with Koch.
Brodkorb's legal document said that Ludeman said precisely that when he fired Brodkorb on December 16.
Ludeman said "I did not," mention that connection.
"There was no conversation or no word uttered by me about that at that event," Ludeman said.
Ludeman said that he does not know of any other Senators who have had affairs with other staffers.
"I don't know of any," said Ludeman.
Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem said he cannot speak about any matters related to the issue, on the advice of counsel. Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk said he does not know of any current lawmakers who have had affairs with staffers. Bakk is married to a current Senate staffer but noted that she was a staffer in the Senate at that time and he was a House member.
Brodkorb is asking for more than $500,000 in damages as well as attorneys’ fees to settle the issue.
The document also said that even if Brodkorb went through mediation to settle the termination claim, a possibility both he and Ludeman removed from consideration on Wednesday, he may still sue Senators Geoff Michel, David Hann, Chris Gerlach, former chief of staff Cullen Sheehan and committee administrator Aaron Cocking. All were said to have knowledge of Brodkorb’s relationship with Koch or were involved in the events surrounding Brodkorb’s dismissal. Villaume said he could not answer why they did not include Senjem, who was also involved in those events, was not included in that list.
Michel refused comment. Hann said "it is probably not good for me to make any other comments because I don't have any first hand knowledge of it."
The document also says that "it is anticipated" Koch, who has refused to name the male staffer with whom she had an affair, "will testify that Mr. Brodkorb's employment was terminated by the Republican leadership because of the intimate relationship between" herself and Brodkorb. Vallaume said that testimony would be public. Koch said Thursday that she had no comment on the matter.
In the months that followed her resignation, she has not spoken of the relationship and on Wednesday she said she would not speak of anything related to the legal matter, including refusing to confirm the Brodkorb as the identity of the staffer with whom she had an affair.
Read the full notice of claims here: