Senate to seek sanctions against Michael Brodkorb's lawyers

Michael Brodkorb
Michael Brodkorb, standing near the Minnesota Capitol on Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, says this is as close as he's gotten to the Capitol since he was fired from his job there in December 2011. Attorneys for the Minnesota Senate say they intend to ask a federal judge to impose sanctions against Brodkorb's attorneys.
MPR Photo/Tim Nelson

Attorneys for the Minnesota Senate say they intend to ask a federal judge to impose sanctions against attorneys for former Senate staffer Michael Brodkorb.

They allege that Brodkorb's attorneys briefly released into the public domain legal documents that under a judge's order should have remained private.

The documents, part of information Brodkorb's attorneys filed in federal court last week, identified current and former lawmakers that Brodkorb claims had affairs with staffers. They are part of his lawsuit he filed against the Senate leadership alleging wrongful termination.

That's important to the lawsuit because Brodkorb claims he was fired for having an affair with former GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch even though other legislative staffers were not reprimanded for having affairs with male lawmakers.

Koch resigned her leadership post in December 2011 after other Republican senators confronted her about her affair with Brodkorb. Secretary of the Senate Cal Ludeman fired Brodkorb one day later.

U.S. District Judge Arthur Boylan issued a protective order requiring attorneys to keep certain information private. But Dayle Nolan, an attorney for the Minnesota Senate, said Brodkorb's attorneys violated that order when the document was briefly posted to a federal website accessible to at least two media organizations, including Minnesota Public Radio News. She said they will ask the judge to penalize the attorneys.

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"We're bringing a motion for sanctions and to compound their violation of the protective order by commenting on it would be more than we should do, I think," Nolan said.

Republican response
In a photo taken Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011, Michael Brodkorb, then-state deputy chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota, listens during the Republican response to the State of the State at the Capitol in St. Paul, Minn. Brodkorb was fired after allegations he had an affair with former GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, who resigned her seat.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

Nolan declined further comment except to say that she wouldn't concede that the legal paperwork was mistakenly released.

Attorneys for Brodkorb declined comment on Thursday but acknowledged last week that the information was mistakenly released on a federal district court website on July 3. The contents were quickly taken down after court personnel were told a mistake has been made.

The existence of the document became public Thursday after the Associated Press reported on some of its contents. MPR News has also acquired the document but did not publish a story about it because the contents were not verified.

The case is set to go to trial next July. Attorneys are preparing to interview key witnesses and gathering information for the case.

The Minnesota Senate has already spent nearly $230,000 in legal fees. They have also budgeted an additional $500,000 for the case. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said the money will not be used as part of a settlement. Attorneys for the Senate say Brodkorb was an "at will" employee who could be fired at any time.