The Minnesota Senate's legal costs related to the dismissal of a top Republican aide climbed to nearly $85,000 by the end of May, although threatened lawsuits have yet to materialize.
An invoice obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press details $38,533 in legal services from a private firm, Larkin Hoffman Attorneys, in April and May. The latest billing comes on top of a yet-unpaid $46,150 invoice covering the firm's work through March.
The Senate has been preparing to defend itself against litigation anticipated from former senior communications aide Michael Brodkorb.
Brodkorb was dismissed in December after his boss, then-Republican Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, stepped down from her leadership role. It was later revealed the two were having an affair.
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The Senate hired an outside attorney, Dayle Nolan, who charges $330 an hour. The latest invoice shows she and another attorney paid at the same rate worked 115 hours on tasks including meetings and phone calls, communicating with Brodkorb's attorneys and reviewing Brodkorb's attempt to claim unemployment benefits.
Brodkorb is moving toward a federal gender discrimination lawsuit, alleging that he was treated differently from other Senate employees involved in workplace affairs. His attorneys also have threatened to file state lawsuits charging several senators and Senate officials with defamation and invasion of privacy.
Those lawsuits could further increase the public's costs because the officials may be entitled to state-paid legal help. So could other staffers who might be drawn into the litigation.
The combined invoices exceed a $50,000 threshold that triggers a requirement for a public hearing by the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. That panel meets Wednesday to review the legal expenses.