Updated 3:30 p.m.
Former Minnesota Senate employee Michael Brodkorb is filing suit against the state, the Minnesota Senate and the Secretary of the Senate, stemming from his firing late last year.
Brodkorb was fired after then-Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch stepped down from leadership. She resigned after Senators confronted her about the affair she was having with Brodkorb.
In his suit, Brodkorb, the former communications director for the Senate and a longtime Republican activist, claims that he was fired because he is a man.
"Similarly situated female legislative employees, from both political parties, were not terminated from their employment positions despite intimate relationships with male legislators," the suit says.
The suit says that, "Senator Koch will testify that Brodkorb's employment was terminated by the Republican Leadership because of the intimate relationship between Senator Koch and Brodkorb, as will other legislators and legislative staffers."
Although Koch has been very quiet about the matter since she left leadership, her lawyer Ron Rosenbaum said she will "absolutely" testify and will have "significantly more to say," if called upon.
Well before Brodkorb filed his suit, Senate officials said his complaints are baseless. Brodkorb was an ‘at will employee,’ they’ve said, meaning he could be fired at any time.
"I believe the Senate has done nothing wrong. In fact, the Senate has acted carefully and appropriately in regards to this employment issue. I am not interested in a mediated settlement, and I believe the Senate will prevail in court," Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem said Monday.
Phil Villaume, Brodkorb’s attorney, said Brodkorb was “disappointed that this lawsuit needed to be filed. Considering that the Minnesota Senate has already spent nearly $100,000 in legal fees simply ‘preparing’ for a lawsuit to be filed must raise significant questions for the taxpayers.” For months, Brodkorb’s attorneys have asked the Senate to settle the claims out of court.
The Senate this year hired a private attorney, Dayle Nolan at Minneapolis firm Larkin Hoffman, to deal with the litigation threat. The Senate has already paid Nolan’s firm $85,000 for work done through May.
Senjem said Monday: "Along with our attorneys, we will do everything in our power to protect the interests of the taxpayers. The Minnesota Senate is and always has been responsible in its employment procedures and practices."
Brodkorb is also suing Secretary of the Senate Cal Ludeman for publicly saying that Brodkorb was trying to "disrupt the work of the Senate," "blackmail" the Senate and "extort a payment from the Senate." He is also suing Ludeman for allegedly telling the media that Brodkorb had filed for unemployment benefits, which were denied and that Brodkorb then appealed. Brodkorb claims that violated his privacy.
Senjem said the Senate attorney will defend Ludeman.