The Minnesota Senate is seeking a variety of personal materials from aggrieved former staffer Michael Brodkorb as part of discovery proceedings in his civil suit against the chamber. They include medical records, recent employment history and private communications relating to his case. The Senate’s requests were made public in a series of filings that appeared yesterday, and included responses from Brodkorb’s legal team, which largely rejected the appeals for additional information.
The filings reveal that the Senate’s defense team is apparently pursuing leaks Brodkorb might have made to the media about his case. Among the items to which the Senate’s defense team requested access were communications Brodkorb had undertaken with “public relations consultants, newspapers, and other members of the media regarding this litigation or the facts underlying it.” Another request asks for any communications Brodkorb has made with any individual about his case. In response to these and other requests, Brodkorb’s attorneys, Greg Walsh and Phil Villaume, argue the Senate’s inquiries are “overly broad, unduly burdensome, and…intended to simply harass, annoy, and impose undue expense upon [Brodkorb].”
The Senate, which has retained attorneys from Larkin Hoffman for its legal defense, also seemed to suspect that Brodkorb might be in business with former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch. It was the extramarital affair between Koch and Brodkorb that led to her ouster from Senate leadership, his firing, and her subsequent decision to retire from the Senate altogether. In its filing, the Senate wants to obtain any documents related to joint holdings between Koch and Brodkorb, including business ventures, property or joint bank accounts. Brodkorb’s team has responded that no such documents exist.
Lawyers for the Senate also requested that Brodkorb “state the current nature of [his] relationship with Amy Koch, indicating whether it is ‘intimate.'” There, again, Brodkorb’s attorneys argue the request is meant to “harass, embarrass and annoy [Brodkorb],” and reveal only that Brodkorb and Koch were in a relationship between September and December 2011.
On another topic, the Senate challenged Brodkorb to prove that he had suffered mentally since losing his job, asking him to list “any symptoms and diagnoses related to such distress.” In one filing on behalf of Brodkorb, he is said to have suffered “great mental pain and anguish subject to but not limited to extreme and severe anguish, humiliation, emotional distress, nervousness, tension, sleeplessness, and anxiety.” In response to a separate inquiry regarding any “doctors, psychiatrists [or[ psychologists” Brodkorb has seen about his condition, the former staffer’s attorneys have invoked the protective order clause enacted by District Court Judge Arthur Boylan, which allows either side to unilaterally seal court documents.
Also revealed as part of yesterday’s releases are additions to the list of names of Senate figures with whom Brodkorb had secretly recorded conversations around the time of his termination in late 2011. As noted in recent media reports, Brodkorb is in possession of an audio tape of Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, who was then the Senate president, and is said to have expressed sympathy with Brodkorb’s situation. According to yesterday’s response, Brodkorb also has a secretly recorded audiotape of former Secretary of the Senate Cal Ludeman and Kevin Matzek, who at the time served as the Republican Senate caucus legislative director and has since been promoted to caucus chief of staff. The filings also allude to tape recordings of talks with GOP Sens. Dave Senjem and Julianne Ortman.
In addition, Brodkorb apparently has held onto a voice message left to him by Ludeman. Ludeman was also initially a target in the suit, with Brodkorb alleging that Ludeman had defamed him in public statements, though that element of the claim was later dropped.
Earlier this week, the Senate Rules and Administration Committee approved $27,000 worth of legal defense fees connected to the case, bringing its total expenditure to $227,000 Brodkorb’s suit, which was filed in July 2012. The committee also passed a budget for the coming biennium that includes $500,000 designated toward legal fees, which Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk indicated was not meant to be used for a settlement. Bakk said that he and Senate Minority Leader David Hann are both in regular contact with their defense attorneys, and that decisions in the case were being made by consensus. The case is now entering the deposition stage, and is scheduled to go to trial on July 1, 2014.