A Few Questions on l’affaire Brodkorb-Koch.

It is a sick, schadenfreude-rich fascination, and I’m not (all that) proud of it. But the still unfolding Amy Koch-Michael Brodkorb drama/scandal, in its current state, leaves me asking more questions than it answers.

I have never met Koch and I recall only one conversation with Brodkorb, back in his hey day of running the “Minnesota Democrats Exposed” website. But both have well established reputations. Enough so that my first thought when told that Brodkorb was the likely suspect at the other end of the “inappropriate relationship” was to think, “This is as at least much about him as it is about her.” By that I mean, Brodkorb is very much the sort of guy who makes influential enemies and that it is entirely possible that Koch, her Senate Majority Leadership withstanding, is the collateral damage in a move to neutralize/destroy Brodkorb.

Before anyone tut-tuts about insinuating guilt on the part of a guy who has not been identified, much less charged with anything … please. Brodkorb was/is a guy who lived for press attention, preferably of the kind he could pre-formulate. Were he a bona fide innocent all he would have to do is answer one reporter phone call and say, “This is an outrageous slur! I have never had so much as an impure thought about Leader Koch! My lawyers dare you to suggest otherwise!”

But he hasn’t, and he won’t.

Instead he’s tweeting stuff like this … “… as he struggles to survive against his shadowy enemies and expose the truth, he doesn’t know whom he can trust.” (A reference to the John Travolta character in an old, over-heated Brian DePalma movie).

Since neither Brodkorb or Koch (who is also currently incommunicado with the public) are likely to clear the air anytime soon, here are a few questions I have should the day ever come when they stand up and explain themselves.

1: Despite comparisons to Bill Clinton toying with Monica Lewinsky, I’m struggling with the image of Leader Koch “seducing” or “exploiting” Brodkorb, the dewy-eyed staffer. In fact, call me a conspiracy-crazy, but knowing Brodkorb’s ambitions to be a player in making over the Minnesota GOP in the image of a take-no-prisoners hyper-partisan website/radio talk show, how likely is it that he was the “predator” here, drawing Koch into an episode of illicit bonding that enhanced his influence over her?

2: The GOP’s star chamber imagery, with a panel of solemn … white men … breaking the news after having passed judgment on Koch, has taken plenty of abuse for the heavy redolence of sexism. As it should. Republicans, and the Star Tribune editorial page, have commended the Council of Elders on the grounds that they acted expeditiously and with acceptable transparency. Republicans have been heard saying, “Can you imagine how bad this could have been had the Democrats found out first!”. To which I say, “No, I can’t … imagine how this could be worse.” Point being that in a normal world of routine office hanky panky — and nothing else — which goes on all the time, the Council of (Male) Elders would have met with Koch and said, “Knock this off and get this person out of your office”. Instead, the pressure exerted on Koch seems significantly greater than the offense required, to the point that she offered, on the spot, to resign as Majority Leader. Why the more heavy-handed than necessary squeeze on Koch? And don’t tell me that the state GOP is all that sensitive to mis-playing so flagrant a hypocrisy card via a “pro-marriage” tactician such as Amy Koch.

3: What has been the quality of the relationship between people like Geoff Michel, David Hann and other GOP leaders and Brodkorb? Knowing only a little about political egos, the elected have a certain hard-earned disdain for the unelected with ambitions for power. The experience of surviving the meat grinder of a public campaign gives the elected a cred mere “operatives” can only daydream about, and that disdain/cred expresses itself in summary retribution against over-reaching, unelected insiders … when it can. I would be astonished to learn that Hann, Michel et al were both comfortable and fully trusting of Brodkorb. In today’s zealot-mongering GOP game guys like Brodkorb are useful tools … until they’re not, or until as I say they forget their sub-servient status and overreach.

4: What are the terms of Brodkorb’s termination? Yes, all Senate employees are “at will” and can be dismissed at any time for any reason. But has anyone in the GOP hierarchy, whether elected or a major donor, arranged severance/compensation to Brodkorb? If so, did that come with a non-disclosure agreement?

Finally, the current GOP strategy, locking down Koch and Brodkorb and “moving on” is anything but transparent. If I were to guess I’d say we know less than half the full story of the motivations and intrigues here. I suspect the Capitol press corps feels the same … and is excited and tingly at the thought of being the one that delivers the full drama in all its tawdry glory.

45 thoughts on “A Few Questions on l’affaire Brodkorb-Koch.

  1. Jim Leinfelder says:

    Well, I see Occam’s Razor is not in effect. That’s quite a conspiracy theory. Who’re you going to get to direct, Oliver Stone?

      1. Great minds think alike. I had not read this before I posted. I see Cyndy, generally sympathetic to Republican themes, also uses the phrase “:collateral damage” in describing Koch in relation to Brodkorb. I have no way of knowing if the stadium issue was the trip wire here — Brodkorb was involved with re-districting, a much more vital aspect of GOP planning — and, as I say, valued himself as a rising power of the “new GOP”. If Brodkorb never presents himself for a full-disclosure hearing, I will continue to stand by my high suspicion that he received an “acceptable settlement” to keep his mouth shut on the specifics of what went down.

      1. Erik says:

        Or is that a “talking point”.

        We have at will employment in this state, as you well know. Why would they need to settle? There’s cause, as if they even needed it. Why would they want to setlle?

      2. john sherman says:

        A settlement with a non disclosure/ non disparagement clause might be handy. My sister was fired from a job in the garment industry and had to sign a settlement with a non disparagement clause; fortunately, she had talked to me before she settled, so if you want to know what kind of assholes her bosses were, I’ll tell you.

      3. Erik says:

        I’m just saying, there’s not plausible reason to assert it. Ludeman fired him rather summarily.

        And I wonder if I’m not alone to have been made pause with the mention of his name. I would have figured Ludeman was 100 by now. Turns out hes only 61.

    1. Erik says:

      Oh, that’s bunk. Well maybe not for him. He’s got a bit of a Carville like snake head.

      She’s as zaftig cute as most Minnesota gals.

  2. Joe Loveland says:

    Since neither Broadkorb nor Koch admitted to the “inappropriate relationship” (IR), I’m wondering why the IR prosecutors didn’t push for an investigation instead of resignations. Either a) one or both of the alleged IR-ers did admit to the IR, and the IR prosecutors are being untruthful with the public about that or b) the IR prosecutors presumed guilt before and went too far too fast.

    1. Joe: I like (a). At the very least my guess is neither Koch or Brodkorb denied it. But the larger point is that a simple sex thing is a shrug-off, even with the hypocrisy angle. “Poor judgment”, yadda yadda. “We’ve sought forgiveness from God”, (to paraphrase Newt Gingrich, and it quickly recedes. Also, if cash is keeping Brodkorb quiet about something bigger, it could also have bought a lifetime of denials on an affair.

      1. john sherman says:

        If she were in the Gingrich wing of the party she could just explain that her patriotic love of Minnesota somehow led her to inexplicable inappropriate behavior. She may screw Brodkorb, but she loves Minnesota.

    2. Joe Loveland says:

      In today’s coverage, it looks like the IRers admitted to their IRing in September. In the news conference the other day, it sounded like the IRing was still a matter of dispute. Anyway, that explains why there wasn’t a call for an investigation.

  3. ca says:

    I thought I was the only one who saw the connection between Koch and Brodkorb.
    They may have sought forgiveness from God, but politically, they’ve been hoisted on their own petard.

  4. Tim Ward says:

    You’re giving way too much credit to Brodkorb. He’s a hack who was willing to do the dirty work and kiss the asses of the right people. This allowed him to rise way beyond his capability. His track record? Mark Kennedy, dead. Norm Coleman, dead. Tom Emmer, dead. Tony Sutton, dead. The only thing he can try to take credit for is the GOP takeover of the legislature. That was a tsunami and he and Tony put the GOP $1m in debt.

    Brodkorb should go back to the gorilla suit in which he got his start. He looked good in that.

    1. Brodkorb is an aggressively ambitious guy, with a style that I’m guessing rankles what counts as the GOP’s more decorous wing. His “successes” may be minimal, but his insertion of himself (pardon the imagery) into so many facets of the party’s operation could likely have grated on a lower profile crowd.

  5. Festus says:

    http://www.kare11.com/news/article/952484/396/Koch-admits-relationship-with-staffer-apologizes

    In a letter dated 12.15.11, I announced that I was resigning as Majority Leader for personal reasons. I have made some mistakes and errors in judgment for which I am deeply sorry by engaging in a relationship with a Senate staffer. While I have not violated any laws or Senate rules, nor misused any state funds or property, I want to express my deep regret and apologies to my constituents, the Republican party, my fellow legislators, friends and most importantly, my family. I regret more than words can express the hurt that I have caused to the people that I love, and to those who have worked and served with me over the past years.

    The events of recent days have been very difficult for me and those close to me. It is important that I spend time now focusing on the challenging days ahead as I work through some very personal issues.

      1. Charlie Quimby says:

        Koch’s statement would seem to exclude a “sexual” relationship, since she says she broke no laws, and a law against adultery is on the books. Of course, she also said she broke no Senate rules, which seems a stretch.

        Later reports indicate the Council of (Male) Elders might have expected Koch to “Knock this off and get this person out of your office” after Sheehan confronted them and reported to Michel. But she didn’t.

        The answer to why, if we ever get it, will be interesting.

      2. I’ve read somewhere that people who have overwhelming passion might act it out in non-sexual ways. I’ve also heard power is the ultimate aphrodisiac. As for some considering power itself the ultimate girlfriend, I’m just making that up.

  6. dipper says:

    Thanks addressing the rather obvious concerns that still give the vapors to the delicate souls over at Minnpost.

  7. Festus says:

    http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/2011/12/gay_marriage_amy_koch_michael_brodkorb.php

    An Open Apology to Amy Koch on Behalf of All Gay and Lesbian Minnesotans

    Dear Ms. Koch,

    On behalf of all gays and lesbians living in Minnesota, I would like to wholeheartedly apologize for our community’s successful efforts to threaten your traditional marriage. We are ashamed of ourselves for causing you to have what the media refers to as an “illicit affair” with your staffer, and we also extend our deepest apologies to him and to his wife. These recent events have made it quite clear that our gay and lesbian tactics have gone too far, affecting even the most respectful of our society.

    We apologize that our selfish requests to marry those we love has cheapened and degraded traditional marriage so much that we caused you to stray from your own holy union for something more cheap and tawdry. And we are doubly remorseful in knowing that many will see this as a form of sexual harassment of a subordinate.

    It is now clear to us that if we were not so self-focused and myopic, we would have been able to see that the time you wasted diligently writing legislation that would forever seal the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman, could have been more usefully spent reshaping the legal definition of “adultery.”

    Forgive us. As you know, we are not church-going people, so we are unable to fully appreciate that “gay marriage” is incompatible with Christian values, despite the fact that those values carry a biblical tradition of adultery such as yours. We applaud you for keeping that tradition going.

    And finally, shame on us for thinking that marriage is a private affair, and that our marriage would have little impact on anyone’s family. We now see that marriage is more than that. It is an agreement with society. We should listen to the Minnesota Family Council when it tells us that marriage is about being public, which explains why marriages are public ceremonies. Never did we realize that it is exactly because of this societal agreement that the entire world is looking at you in shame and disappointment instead of minding its own business.

    From the bottom of our hearts, we ask that you please accept our apology.

    Thank you.
    John Medeiros
    Minneapolis MN

  8. Festus says:

    https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=609.36&year=2011&keyword_type=all&keyword=adultery

    609.36 ADULTERY.

    Subdivision 1.Acts constituting. When a married woman has sexual intercourse with a man other than her husband, whether married or not, both are guilty of adultery and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than one year or to payment of a fine of not more than $3,000, or both.
    Subd. 2.Limitations. No prosecution shall be commenced under this section except on complaint of the husband or the wife, except when such husband or wife is insane, nor after one year from the commission of the offense.
    Subd. 3.Defense. It is a defense to violation of this section if the marital status of the woman was not known to the defendant at the time of the act of adultery.

  9. Jeremy Powers says:

    Having been involved in a DFL campaign in which Brodkorb, in his Minnesota Democrats Exposed fecal smear days, insinuated that our candidate was selling drugs to children because he was ticketed in his youth for a dope pipe in his back seat and the address on the ticket placed him near a playground, I find a great deal of satisfaction that Brodkorb is drowning in the same cesspool.

    1. PM says:

      Newt. I applaud you for going where I feared to tread….

      I suppose you can look at the rise of Brodkorb as a sort of desperation–desperate people (republicans fearful of the post W/Pawlenty eras) bought the snake oil he was selling (which I think was that he knew how to solve the problem of Obama/dayton–a quick, easy way to win and bring back the good times).

      Most snake oil is not a substitute for hard work.

      1. Erik says:

        You feared to tread on the rise of Brodkorb as the desperation of MN R’s in the post Pawlenty era? That’s where you feared to tread?

      2. Erik says:

        I gathered that, and I think that’s wise PM. You make that crack, and people might wonder what your standing is to be making smart alec over who’s hot enough to be getting some action.

        So what’s your standing? I mean, the thing I think is probably absurd is the typical 50 – 65 yr old, screechy liberal bitch man at the Same Rowdy Crowd thinking Amy Koch would be too fat for them. You guys are turning them away, beating them back, I imagine, save for the waifish ones who meet your standards. I suppose the mirror of this is reflexive conservative tendency to call gorgeous Michelle Obama fat or homely, which is bunk as well. But sheesh, what a bunch of fuckin dorks.

      3. PM says:

        Ah, but Erik, I didn’t make that crack, so you don’t get to wonder about my standing. Go ask Newt, instead.

  10. Newt says:

    Brodkorb is a cartoon. How a guy who operated what essentially was the GOP’s version of “Dump Bachmann” website ascended to party leadership is beyond me. He was never a person of substance or true conservatism.

    As for Koch, it’s good to know that plus-size gals can still find love.

      1. Erik says:

        What it is that I know, is that all women are beautiful, and you Aspergers dorks here at the crowd don’t have the dating cred to be asserting who’s not hot enough to be getting action.

      2. PM says:

        And you think that is a valid judgement just because we are spending all this time in front of computer screens making silly statements and posting you tube links instead of……oh, i see. Well, maybe you have a point.

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