Michael Brodkorb talks scandal, lawsuit, and new leases on life: The City Pages interview

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Brodkorb acknowledges making "bad decisions, bad choices," but says he's learned and is ready to move on.
Two years ago, Michael Brodkorb was one of the Minnesota Republican party's up-and-coming voices, a ruthless political tactician who made a name for himself digging up dirt about the DFL and writing about it on his blog. But then news of his affair with Amy Koch broke, and by this time a year ago Brodkorb found himself out of work and taking heat from all sides for pursuing a costly gender discrimination lawsuit against the Senate.

SEE ALSO: Brodkorb settles for $30k; Senate says that's what they offered before lawsuit

This year started off on a particularly rough note for Brodkorb. In January, he was critically injured in a car crash, and he later pleaded guilty to DUI in connection with the accident. But this morning, one day removed from settling his wrongful termination lawsuit for a pittance compared to the damages he once sought, Brodkorb said he's thrilled to turn the page and have a "third chance" at life. We connected with him to talk about the settlement, how his affair with Koch and the resulting scandal affected his political views, and what life lessons he's learned from the whole ordeal, among other topics. Check out our interview after the jump.

City Pages: The Senate released a statement yesterday saying your $30,000 settlement represents the same amount you were offered before you filed suit. In light of that, do you have any regrets about pursuing legal recourse?

Brodkorb: No. I haven't been deputized to speak for anyone else in the general populace, but, you know, the reason I filed the lawsuit and went to court is because I needed advocates. I needed counsel. I needed to retain somebody versed in the law to advocate on my behalf to resolve an employment issue that I had with the Minnesota Senate.

And it's unfortunate that I had to do that. I had never felt that in the time of my departure from the Minnesota Senate that there was any responsible agent at the Senate to deal with, and so my only choice was to go to court, and to seek relief through the legal process. And my faith in the legal system was confirmed. My belief in the legal system was confirmed. I made that statement yesterday at the court and I made it privately in conversations I was able to have with the magistrate in this case. People go to court and they seek relief from the courts when they feel they have been wronged.

Was it a perfect settlement? Well, as my attorney said yesterday, a perfect settlement is when both sides feel that they -- that one side may have gave up too much, that one side might have gotten too little. And, you know, that's ideally the perfect settlement.

But I had no choice but to seek relief in the court system. There was no responsible agent at the Minnesota Senate that was willing to discuss matters related to my separation from the Senate, and that's what the legal process exists for. I'm very thankful for the legal representation that I received from Mr. Walsh and the work of Judge Boylan yesterday, the magistrate in this case. [He] was able to bring the two parties together to get this matter resolved.

CP: You've taken a lot of heat for the fact that taxpayers are on the hook for roughly $300,000 in legal fees associated with the case. What do you have to say to the people who criticize you for that?

Brodkorb: Well, first and foremost, the framework of America's judicial system is, generally speaking, each side pays for their own legal fees. First and foremost, Aaron, I would remind you that I'm a taxpayer. So, you know, I technically helped pay for and paid for the legal fees of all the attorneys and all the parties in this case, as I am a taxpayer.

How the Minnesota Senate chose to process their legal fees, pay their legal fees, and hire their attorneys is their responsibility to deal with. They chose to spend the money that they did in this case and they're accountable for those decisions. The elected leadership of the Minnesota Senate is responsible for retaining the counsel that they did, paying the counsel that they did, and spending the amount of money that they did, that they felt they needed to regarding the cost associated with this case. They spent close to $100,000 in this case before I had even filed my lawsuit.

The other point I'll make to you is regarding use of the term "severance." You know, when Cal Ludeman walked into Moose Country, and surprised me, and ambushed me at Moose Country, and announced that I was being terminated, he didn't come with a severance package in hand. He didn't come with a severance package of any sort in hand or any type of severance package of any type of sort. And so, the legal fees incurred in this -- I had legal fees that I have had to pay to my attorneys, the Senate has legal fees that they have had to pay. They are responsible for the structure and the payment system that they've set up to pay for their legal fees. And as a taxpayer, you know, I have by default paid all the attorneys in this, but the legal structure for how the decisions that the Republican leadership -- let's be honest here, the Republican leadership made the decision to hire outside counsel and to proceed down this road. And ultimately, the responsibility lies with them to explain and justify why they've spent the amount they did in their legal fees. That's a conversation they need to have, that they're responsible for. It's their responsibility to deal with.

(For more, click to page two.)

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