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Senate approves latest legal bill in Brodkorb case, won't settle

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Members of the Senate Rules committee met Thursday to approve the payment of the latest legal costs of defending a discrimination lawsuit filed by former Republican staffer Michael Brodkorb.

The recent bill of more than $90,000 brings the Senate's lawyer fees to nearly $200,000 before the case has gone to trial.

Brodkorb is suing over his firing that came after an affair with former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch became public. The lawsuit alleges gender discrimination, claiming female legislative employees involved in intimate relationships with legislators didn't suffer consequences.

MPR reports Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, wants to continue an aggressive defense in court rather than make a settlement to set a precedent.

DFL Senate leaders support the continued defense, but there concerns over mounting costs.

Republicans say the cost is worthwhile because they are winning, the Star Tribune says, and the Senate could recoup legal fees from Brodkorb with a victory. Republican leaders say Brodkorb's initial claims have been dropped.

Brodkorb's attorney, Phil Villaume, says it's too premature to declare victory at this point and the case is far from over.

KARE 11 reports the running tab of $200,000 is more than twice what it would have cost to keep Brokorb on staff for the past year and the most expensive portion of the case hasn't even started yet.

Political analyst David Schultz tells the television station the legislature isn't insured for cases like Brodkorb's, so the money is coming right out of taxpayer's pockets.

A strong incentive for Republicans to settle, according to Schultz, is that the incoming Democrats will become "clients" of the private law firm handling the case, gaining access to privileged information that only the Republicans knew.

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Michael Brodkorb is a former staffer for Minnesota Senate Republicans whose lawsuit claims he was wrongfully fired. Majority Leader Dave Senjem says the suit has no merit and the Senate will prevail in court. Some DFLers fear the bills could climb to $1 million and want Republicans to set up a legal defense fund instead of using state money to pay the attorneys.

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The Minnesota Senate still hasn’t paid the $46,000 bill for its defense lawyers' initial work in the Michael Brodkorb wrongful termination case, and another big bill is on the way, MinnPost says.

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The DFL leader proposed the Senate set up a legal defense fund to help pay the lawyers preparing a defense against a possible lawsuit. But the Rules Committee voted to allocate tax dollars for the legal fees. Michael Brodkorb is a former Senate Republican staffer who maintains he was wrongfully fired.

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The Senate Rules Committee will meet Wednesday to discuss how to proceed with the Michael Brodkorb case. The former staffer claims he was wrongfully fired over his affair with a Senator and has laid the groundwork for a gender discrimination suit. Brodkorb argues plenty of female staff members have affairs with Senators and go unpunished. The Senate is paying $330 an hour to defend itself, even before the suit is filed.