The Star Tribune has obtained secret recordings made by fired Minnesota Senate staffer Michael Brodkorb two years ago. The 2011 recordings made by Brodkorb are part of the high-profile lawsuit he filed after revelations of his romantic relationship with then-Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch stunned observers at the Capitol.
The Strib says the recordings -- made without the knowledge of others -- reveal bitter divisions between his GOP bosses over how they responded to the extramarital affair Brodkorb had with Koch.
Minnesota law only requires that one party to a call be aware that it is being recorded.
The paper's coverage centers round one recording Brodkorb made in a conversation with Sen. Michelle Fischbach, who now defends Brodkorb’s dismissal. The then-Senate president is heard on the tape telling Brodkorb that her fellow GOP senators who orchestrated his firing, “messed this up every possible way they can … I am just flabbergasted that anybody can make decisions so poorly.”
The recorded conversation is part of other evidence submitted in the case that is not public. The "profanity-laced" conversations between Brodkorb and Fischbach were obtained by the Star Tribune from a source who requested anonymity and who is not directly part of the lawsuit, according to the paper.
The lawsuit claims Brodkorb was improperly fired, the paper says, in part because previous affairs involving female staffers and male politicians did not result in any dismissals. The suit, scheduled for trial next summer, has already cost state taxpayers more than $200,000 in legal fees.
In what has played out as a true St. Paul soap opera, the Strib goes in for the juicy bits. To wit:
Brodkorb and Fischbach, in their conversationon the tape, alluded to similar romantic relationships in the Capitol where the employee was not fired. “I think there has been an incredible double standard here,” Fischbach said in the recording, according to the Strib.
Koch, who resigned her leadership position after other senators confronted her about the affair, told the Star Tribune last week that she wishes Fischbach had spoken out at the time about her displeasure over the way events unfolded.
“There’s a fair amount on there that Senator Fischbach says that I agree with,” Koch said of the tapes. “In the position she held, she had an obligation to speak up. I don’t recall her ever saying any of this publicly.”
After Senators from her own party made the affair public, Koch stepped down as Majority Leader, quietly served out her term and did not seek re-election.
Fischbach, who declined to be interviewed about the tapes, said in a statement that she was only trying to console someone she considered a friend.
“My comments to Michael Brodkorb were made as a friend trying to be supportive of someone in a difficult situation, who was losing his job and possibly losing his family,” the Paynesville Republican said in a statement. “I now understand that staff members can be lawfully discharged under such circumstances.”
The paper details a good cycle of Capitol scheming and double-crossing, and nearly portrays Bordkorb as a victim in the whole affair.
Brodkorb last week released a statement to the Star Tribune through his attorney, Greg Walsh: “We believe the statements from then-Senate President Michelle Fischbach, which include her stating that Mr. Brodkorb was ‘wrongfully terminated’ supports, as do other statements and documents, Mr. Brodkorb’s legal claim that he was wrongly terminated from the Minnesota Senate.”