Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem said Friday that the Senate is spending between $200 and $300 an hour for legal advice to deal with a possible lawsuit from an ex-employee but declined to reveal further information about the arrangement.
"We will have to report that through the Rules Committee at some point," Senjem said. A Senate resolution passed last year that would require a contract, and therefore disclosure, on any spending above $10,000.
Senjem said he recollected that the hourly rate the Senate was paying to attorney Dayle Nolan was around $200 to $300 an hour.
"That's (the same rate for) any lawyer downtown in Minneapolis or St. Paul, I suspect," Senjem said.
The Senate hired Nolan to deal with any legal ramifications of Michael Brodkorb's threat that he will sue the Senate over his firing late last year. Brodkorb, a former communications director, was fired in the wake of former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch's resignation from leadership after she was confronted about an affair she had with Brodkorb.
Nolan has attended at least six hours of ethic committee hearings related to the Senate's handling of the affair as well as a more than two hour hearing over the rejection of Brodkorb's unemployment insurance claim.
"I'm not sure we've gotten a bill yet to be honest with you. That's perhaps part of it," Senjem said. "As she works for us. The clock runs. I can't tell you as I stand here what the odometer is on this one."
The Star Tribune formally requested access to any contract or invoices that Nolan had signed with the Senate. Cal Ludeman responded Wednesday that while the Senate was required to provide the Star Tribune with copies of invoices but, "to date, we have not received an invoice(s) from Dayle Nolan or her firm."
Senjem was similarly unforthcoming when DFL Sen. Ann Rest asked him about any contracts the Senate had with Nolan on the Senate floor on Thursday.
"I'll be happy to visit with Sen. Rest off line but we are limiting in what we ought to be talking about in that particular area," Senjem told Rest on the Senate floor.
"With all due respect, I believe the body has a right to an answer," Rest responded.
"As far as I'm aware that's at this point privileged information. I'm not going to be able to help," Senjem said.
"I object strenuously to Sen. Senjem's behavior," Rest said.