Minn. Senate Legal Bill Over Scandal Nears $200K

Updated: 12/11/2012 4:16 PM KSTP.com By: Leslie Dyste

Legal costs associated with a Minnesota Senate scandal involving a former Republican leader and her senior aide have nearly doubled, a new invoice made public Tuesday showed.

The Associated Press obtained the invoice - prepared by the Senate's private attorney - that contains $90,000 in new expenses. It brings the overall cost to just less than $200,000.

A Senate official familiar with the matter but not authorized to speak for attribution said the spiking costs reflect aggressive efforts to settle or dismiss the case. The official also said that there are efforts under way in court to try to get the former aide to pay some or all of the state's legal costs.

Former senior staffer Michael Brodkorb sued in the summer over his firing, which came in December 2011 after his affair with then-Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch became public. He argues female employees in similar relationships didn't lose their jobs. Some of Brodkorb's legal claims have been dismissed.

The case was a headache for Republicans throughout the fall campaign, with Democrats highlighting aspects of it as a sign of GOP management problems. The scandal showed up in literature used against some GOP senators seeking re-election; Koch did not run again and spent the last year away from the limelight after giving up her leadership role.

Top senators are scheduled to meet Thursday to review the invoice and sign off on its payment. It's the last such hearing before Republicans hand over power to a new Democratic majority in January.

Democratic Sen. Tom Bakk, the incoming majority leader, said his party has been kept mostly in the dark about the status of the case. He said he needs more information before determining whether it makes more financial sense to settle the case or let it drag on in the courts.

"Are we any closer to a settlement? Are we any closer to a resolution?" Bakk asked rhetorically. "I need to talk to our attorney about where we're at."

A call to Brodkorb's attorney was not immediately returned Tuesday.

The new invoice covers costs from August through the end of October. During that period, there were attempts to reach an out-of-court settlement that ended up collapsing.

Most of the billing by the firm Larkin Hoffman Daly and Lindgren covers legal research, brief preparation and conferences involving key players. There also are charges for reviewing footage of interviews Brodkorb granted to media outlets in mid-October.

In an AP interview a few weeks before the election, Brodkorb accused his former colleagues of pushing him out as part of "absolute palace coup."

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