The Minnesota Senate's legal bill could tally more than $700,000 to defend itself against ex-employee Michael Brodkorb's legal case.
On Wednesday a Senate panel approved setting aside $500,000 for legal fees through next year and has already approved paying its lawyers about $228,000 in the case. And the total costs could grow.
"I don't know if $500,000 is going to be enough to get us through the legal bill between now and July 2014 or not," said Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook.
Former Senate communications director Brodkorb was fired after his then boss Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch resigned from leadership in the wake of an affair she and Brodkorb had. Brodkorb is claiming he is a victim of gender discrimination because female employees were allowed to keep their jobs after they had affairs with lawmakers.
Senate leaders and their legal counsel claim that Brodkorb was an at will employee who could be fired at any time. Bakk said on Wednesday ticked off former Senate communications directors who were let go when the majority leaders they served were no longer in charge.
Despite the consistent uptick in legal costs, which are already many times Brodkorb's salary had he kept working in the Legislature, Bakk and others said that the Senate is not considering settlement.
"The Senate has done nothing wrong in the process that we used and we should not send the signal that we are going to settle and give the indication to the public that there is nothing that we should be settling for," said Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie. "We did things in the right way for the right reasons."
Brodkorb on Wednesday that he too is confident that he is in the right.
“I will reiterate that I am fully prepared for this case to go to trial,” said Brodkorb. When asked about his own legal costs, he said that he is “paying both sides of the ledger” because he must take care of his legal costs and, like all taxpayers, he has contributed to the Senate’s budget.