A Minnesota Senate panel is pledging to continue its court battle against former Republican staffer Michael Brodkorb, even though the legal costs have reached nearly $200,000.
Members of the Senate rules committee met today to approve payment of the latest $90,000 bill from the outside attorney they hired in the wake of Brodkorb's firing a year ago. It was later revealed that Brodkorb had an affair with then-Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch.
Senate leaders insist that Brodkorb's employment discrimination lawsuit is without merit, because he was an at-will employee. Brodkorb's attorneys have said he was treated differently than staffers who had affairs and were not fired.
Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said he firmly believes the case is without merit, and he wants the Senate to continue an aggressive defense in court rather than make a settlement.
"A decision like this is precedent setting, and if we don't stand on our heels and put some cement around them on this, we're going set a precedent that's going to be with this Senate for decades to come," Senjem said. "I think if we believe we're right, we ought to stand on what we believe is right, and in my view that's why we have courts."
DFL Senate leaders, who take charge in January, also support the continued defense. Although Sen. James Metzen, DFL-South St. Paul, raised concerns during the meeting about the mounting costs.
"About two months ago I believed that this thing could cost the Minnesota taxpayers about a half million dollars," Metzen said. "We're at $200,000 already, and as far as I know there's been no depositions, no trial. The meter really runs when you get into that area."
Still, Metzen said he does not want the Senate to settle with Brodkorb. He said he was encouraged by news that Brodkorb has already dropped several of his original claims.