Attorney: Brodkorb, Koch had intimate relationship

Amy Koch, R-Buffalo
Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, stepped down from her role as Republican Senate Majority Leader in December 2011 amidst allegations she had an inappropriate relationship with a Senate staffer.
MPR Photo/Tom Scheck

By DOUG GLASS, Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- An attorney for a fired Senate staffer confirmed Wednesday that his client had an intimate relationship with former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch.

Attorney Phil Villaume said the admission is in a notice of claim he filed with the state as part of potential litigation by the staffer, Michael Brodkorb. An affair between the two had been widely suspected after her sudden resignation in December and his subsequent firing, but hadn't been confirmed before Wednesday when the attorney talked to The Associated Press.

The revelation came after a breakdown in talks between Brodkorb and the Senate for possible mediation over his dismissal. Senate Secretary Cal Ludeman first announced the break, saying the Senate had refused Brodkorb's mediation request because he hadn't given any reason to dispute his termination.

Villaume said the two sides were close to an agreement on mediation Tuesday night, even discussing a list of potential mediators. He said mediation was abruptly pulled off the table after he filed the notice of claim, which he portrayed as a legally necessary step toward mediation.

"I'm completely befuddled," he said.

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Koch abruptly resigned her leadership position in December and later acknowledged she had had an improper relationship with a staffer. Brodkorb was fired one day later. Koch never revealed the identity of the staffer, and the circumstances of Brodkorb's firing hadn't been disclosed.

"In the notice of claim that we gave the state yesterday, we admitted that my client and Sen. Koch had been involved in an intimate relationship," Villaume said. "Basically he was terminated because of that relationship."

Villaume said he could not provide a copy of the notice.

Brodkorb and Koch both declined comment.

The Koch-Brodkorb scandal struck down two of Minnesota's most powerful Republicans. Koch was in her first term as majority leader but was regarded as a rising star, especially after guiding her party to a successful stare-down with Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton during the state shutdown last summer.

Brodkorb served as her executive assistant and also as the Senate GOP's communications director, where he was known as an aggressive and effective spokesman.

Brodkorb hired attorneys soon after his dismissal, and they let it be known they preferred a settlement to litigation. Ludeman, in a statement announcing there would be no mediation, accused Brodkorb of trying to "extort a payment from the Senate." Asked about the language in an interview, he said: "I was willing to use the word blackmail as well."

Ludeman said Brodkorb was an "at will" employee who could be fired at any time.

Villaume said he planned to pursue a claim for gender discrimination. He said his argument would be that Brodkorb was fired for an affair with Koch, while female staffers who had affairs with male bosses at the Legislature over the years were not treated similarly.

"It's a real unique kind of claim but we feel a strong one," he said.

Brodkorb was paid more than $90,000 a year as Koch's assistant.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)