Count Sen. Michelle Fischbach as one of several state Capitol tenants who likely took a deep breath after a settlement was reached with former Senate GOP communications chief Michael Brodkorb.
The Minnesota Senate last week announced that it had agreed to pay $30,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by Brodkorb, who was fired in 2011 over an affair with the chamber’s majority leader at the time, former Sen. Amy Koch. Brodkorb sued for wrongful termination, arguing that he was treated differently than female staffers who had carried on affairs at the Capitol.
The lawsuit had become a public-relations eyesore and a mounting expense for the Senate, which had shelled out nearly $320,000 in legal fees to defend its position in the case.
Fischbach became linked to the scandal earlier this year, when secret recordings surfaced of her speaking to Brodkorb shortly after his firing, blasting her fellow Senate Republicans and agreeing with Brodkorb about some of the key claims in the lawsuit.
Fischbach said in the recordings that she believed both Brodkorb and Koch were treated differently because of their gender and that “an incredible double standard” was applied, according to a Star Tribune report.
In the recordings, which reportedly were entered in as evidence in the lawsuit, Fischbach reportedly criticized Senate Republican leaders for their handling of the matter, accusing them of “ginning up” the scandal. The comments came at a time when Fischbach was Senate President, one of the top-ranking posts in the chamber.
The Senate Rules Committee, of which Fischbach is a member, still must approve the settlement. A vote is set for Monday.
Fischbach, R-Paynesville, said she expects the committee to sign off on the deal.
“I’m assuming it’s going to be something that is supported,” Fischbach said.
The $30,000 settlement is a fraction of the $500,000 Brodkorb sought. In a statement, Senate leaders said terms of the settlement include an admission by Brodkorb that he couldn’t prove any of his claims.
Fischbach emphasized that point in her brief comments to the Times about the settlement.
“He didn’t have anything to stand on,” she said. “That’s sort of part of the agreement.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.