Senate panel budgets $500,000 for Brodkorb suit

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A Minnesota Senate panel expects the cost of fighting Michael Brodkorb's wrongful termination lawsuit to exceed $700,000 by next summer, the Star Tribune reports.

The Senate Rules Committee approved a budget Wednesday of more than $500,000 in taxpayer money to pay for legal fees between now and July 2014. About $228,000 has already been spent.

Brodkorb, former Senate communications director, was fired in 2011 after it was revealed that he and then-Majority Leader Amy Koch were having an affair.

Brodkorb alleges gender discrimination, claiming that other female staffers who had affairs with male lawmakers were not fired. He's seeking $600,000 in damages.

Senate officials have denied Brodkorb's claims and maintain that he was fired legally.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said the approved budget is not intended to be used for a settlement, MPR reports.

"The Senate has done nothing wrong in the process that we used and we should not send the signal that we are going to settle," Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, told the Star Tribune.

The case is scheduled to go to trial July 1, 2014.

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Ex-Senate employee Brodkorb files suit against Senate, state

Former Minnesota Senate employee Michael Brodkorb is filing suit against the state, the Minnesota Senate and the Secretary of the Senate, stemming from his firing late last year, the Star Tribune reports. Brodkorb was fired after then-Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch stepped down from leadership. She resigned after senators confronted her about the affair she was having with Brodkorb. In his suit, Brodkorb claims he was fired because he is male, "and therefore a member of a protected class based on his gender."

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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.