The state Senate's rules committee has agreed to pay more than $84,000 in legal bills it has racked up, defending against a lawsuit that hasn't been filed yet.

The committee approved the expense Wednesday, over the objections of DFLers who questioned why Minnesota taxpayers should foot the bill to defend the Senate Republican caucus against a lawsuit filed by disgruntled former GOP staffer Michael Brodkorb.

"I don't have an interest in settling this out of court. I don't think the Senate did anything wrong," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook. But "the majority should have a conversation about setting up a legal defense fund and trying to raise some money for this so the taxpayer is not on the hook for who knows, who knows how much the number is going to be."

Brodkorb, the former communications director for the Senate's Republican caucus, was fired soon after his affair with former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch came to light. Brodkorb alleges he was treated differently than female staffers who conducted affairs with male lawmakers and is threatening to sue, claiming sexual discrimination and defamation.

The suit has not yet been filed, but the Senate is paying the law firm of Larkin Hoffman Daly & Lindgren $330 an hour to prepare for it. After a few minutes of debate, the committee agreed to pay the $84,683.50 legal bill, with DFLers voting against the motion.