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.