Tevlin: Taxpayers won't get the salacious spectacle that they deserve

  • Article by: JON TEVLIN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 11, 2012 - 8:42 PM
Michael Brodkorb
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Michael Brodkorb

Not long ago, one of our reporters saw a top Republican senator standing near a giant hole dug for light rail construction near the State Capitol.

"Looking for somewhere to bury Brodkorb?" joked the reporter.

The senator laughed, but said nothing.

Michael Brodkorb may be a punch line for reporters, but not many legislators have been laughing while the former Republican Party communications chief has threatened to turn the Capitol into a set of "Legislators Gone Wild."

They must be breathing a heavy sigh of relief, however, after U.S. Magistrate Arthur Boylan ordered the party poobahs last week to sit down with Brodkorb to discuss a settlement. Meanwhile, everyone must keep mum on the tawdry details.

Talk about a buzz kill.

I've been clearing my calendar in hopes that Brodkorb would drag this hot mess into a courthouse, where we all could see it smolder. It would be like watching one of those reality shows that you know you shouldn't be watching, but can't help yourself, like "Cops" or "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo."

But no, Judge Buzz Kill wants this thing to fade away stage right, behind the curtain. It's as though he just canceled "The West Wing" during the height of its popularity.

The judge said he ordered the parties to settle the dispute to "minimize the impact on taxpayers."

Wait, let me run that through my B.S.-to-English translator app.

There it is.

It means: "To minimize the almost certain embarrassment to the apparently randy and rowdy Legislature."

I get it. The episode is starting to cost a lot of money, and no matter how much I like the Senate's attorney, Dayle Nolan, I'm not really in the mood to help fund her next European vacation.

Not long after Republican leaders announced that Brodkorb and Sen. Amy Koch were having an affair, I had a conversation with a well-placed party operative and gave him my analogy of the situation.

"Have you seen the Coen brothers movie, 'No Country for Old Men?'" I asked.

He had.

I compared Brodkorb to Anton Chigurh, the cold-blooded Javier Bardem character with a wounded leg and a bad haircut, who wanders the countryside with a captive bolt gun, systematically knocking off anyone in his way.

The operative paused.

"Sounds about right," he said.

Brodkorb had nothing to lose, which suggests lawmakers could have saved us a hundred grand by dealing with him from the get-go. If any of the rumors are correct, several current or former legislators and staff members faced, at least, some awkward depositions.

In the weeks after the scandal broke, many reporters, including me, had some delicate conversations with politicos about their intimate histories. None of those cases, if true, was exactly like the Koch-Brodkorb case because those two held vital roles in the body politic. They oversaw taxpayer dollars and got laws passed that have an impact on every Minnesotan. It had to stop.

But other alleged liaisons, on both sides of the aisle, were certainly morally equivalent to the Koch-Brodkorb affair. I'd guess that a reasonable jury, given a list of other indiscretions, might agree Brodkorb has been treated differently.

So my prediction is that Brodkorb will receive a modest check for his troubles. No one will be held accountable, and nobody else will have their dirty laundry aired in public.

Early on, some political observers declared Brodkorb's career toast. But memories are short and Brodkorb is good at what he does, so I expect he will rise again and limp away from the scene of the accident, like the Coen brothers' Chigurh.

Meanwhile, all the other rumors will be buried deep in that hole outside the Capitol, and we, the taxpayers of Minnesota, will pick up the tab.

jtevlin@startribune.com • 612-673-1702

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Michael Brodkorb