The Minnesota Senate Rules Committee on Thursday unanimously approved additional fees in an ongoing legal case between the chamber and former staffer Michael Brodkorb.
There was no audible dissent from Democrats as the final Republican-led Rules Committee voted to approve the additional $90,000 in fees, pushing total legal costs in the case near the $200,000 mark. Brodkorb is suing the chamber after he was suddenly fired last December. Brodkorb was having an affair with his boss, former Republican Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, and claims he was treated differently from past female staffers who were in similar situations.
Republican members of the committee also reiterated the need to stand firm against settling in the case. A judge has dismissed about half of Brodkorb’s claims, and the chamber is awaiting an additional ruling on a motion to dismiss several more claims.
“We have to stand on our heels and put some cement around it, or we will set a precedent in the Senate that will stand for decades to come,” outgoing Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem said. Democrats will take control of the chamber when the Legislature convenes in January.
Republicans juxtaposed the increasing legal costs against a more than $2 million Senate budget surplus heading into the next session. Secretary of the Senate Cal Ludeman said a trimmed-down committee structure, cutbacks in per diem payments and a ban on out of state travel helped save the chamber cash. With legal bills and other likely transition costs figured in, Ludeman says the chamber has a surplus of between $2.4 and $2.6 million heading into the next biennium.