Former Minnesota Senate employee Michael Brodkorb revealed the list that has long kept the Capitol abuzz: names of legislators he believes had affairs with staffers.
Brodkorb, who was fired as the Senate’s communications director in 2011 after he had an affair with a former Senate majority leader, says he was fired even though female legislative employees were allowed to keep their jobs after having affairs. He is suing the Senate, claiming gender discrimination.
The list, which the Associated Press captured after it was posted on a court website, but then taken down, purported to include the names of 10 legislators and six staffers who allegedly had Capitol affairs.
According to the AP, which did not name the lawmakers or staffers who were on the list, all but one of the 10 legislators are no longer in office.
The AP said the list was in a mistaken filing by Brodkorb’s attorneys last week.
The AP said the document “offers scant evidence to back up [the] allegations” and does not include examples of affairs between a supervisor and a direct subordinate.
Since Brodkorb first threatened his lawsuit, which would require him to prove what happened in other alleged statehouse affairs, the question of what names might be on the list has caused much speculation and some titillation under the Capitol’s marble dome.
“It’s dirty laundry, true or not,” said Sen. Sean Nienow, R-Cambridge.
He said he recalls thinking when Brodkorb first aired his claims, “I’m sure glad that I haven’t done anything that would put me on that list.”
On Thursday, after the AP wrote about the list’s brief release, Brodkorb attorneys and the Senate attorneys met in court on other issues regarding the case.
After that hearing, which focused on whether Brodkorb has released enough information to the Senate legal team, Brodkorb’s lawyers had nothing to say about the list.
“We’re not making any comment,” attorney Phil Villaume said.
In an interview late Thursday, Brodkorb said that the release was unintentional and noted that his legal team has said for months that it hoped to keep the names of the people who he believes had affairs from public scrutiny.
The Senate’s attorneys plan to ask the court to penalize Brodkorb’s team for violating a confidentiality order in the case by releasing the list.
“We’re bringing a motion for sanctions,” said Dayle Nolan, a private attorney the Senate hired to handle the case. “I have no information that would tell me it was inadvertent, mistaken or anything. I know it was done. You know it was done. That’s all I know at this point.”
Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said he found the public release of the list “reprehensible.”
“It is deliberately trying to cause harm to people,” said Hann, who was an assistant majority leader when Brodkorb was fired.
Brodkorb shot back that Hann was among the senators who, in 2011, publicly disclosed that Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch had stepped down from leadership after an “inappropriate relationship” with a staffer. Brodkorb was the staffer.
Senate leaders from both parties have long maintained that Brodkorb’s firing was perfectly legal because he was an at-will employee who could be let go at any time.
Brodkorb was dismissed after Koch resigned from leadership in the wake of their affair.
Brodkorb, like communications directors who served before him, was then let go because he no longer had a direct supervisor, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said recently.
Brodkorb has said that he reported to the Senate chief of staff and the Senate secretary, not to Koch.