By Jesse Marx
By Chris Parker
By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch resigned her leadership position last Thursday after fellow Republicans confronted her about an "inappropriate relationship" with a direct subordinate.
Senate Republicans have declined to name the staffer, but rumors quickly began circulating that it was Republican powerbroker Michael Brodkorb, Koch's communications chief.
Those rumors have intensified following the news that Brodkorb is no longer working at the Senate, which was revealed in an email sent by interim Senate Majority Leader Geoff Michel to staff late Friday afternoon.
Michel later appeared at a hastily called news conference and explained that the MNGOP had confronted Koch because of the potential for conflicts of interest.
"There is no doubt that a manager cannot have such a relationship with someone they oversee, whose budget they oversee," Michel said.
Over the weekend, WCCO's Esme Murphy bluntly asked Michel if Brodkorb was the staffer in question.
"I'm going to answer as fully and completely as I can, any of your questions today, but the law prohibits me from talking about any specific Senate employees or even former Senate employees," Michel said. "There's a legal process that will surround that. We've asked the secretary of the Senate, who handles these sorts of human resources issues, to handle this for us."
In a previous explanation for her sudden and unexpected resignation, Koch claimed it was because she had decided not to seek re-election next year and that the MNGOP "cannot afford a lame duck leader in negotiations next session, which is why I am resigning my position as majority leader."
Both political figures have families. Koch is married, and met her husband, Christopher, in the 1990s while serving in the Air Force. They have a young daughter.
Less is known about Brodkorb's romantic entanglements. When the power broker resigned as deputy chairman of the Republican Party earlier this year to work on Mike Parry's run for congress, Brodkorb said that even many of his closest supporters do not know that he has a "wonderful family" because he is a "very private person."
Then on Saturday, it emerged that Michael Brodkorb had left state Sen. Mike Parry's campaign for congress.
Brodkorb was expected to play a major role in Parry's campaign to defeat Congressman Tim Walz. Broadkorb stepped down from the state Republican Party earlier this fall to volunteer for Parry, a move that gave Parry's candidacy momentum.
Amy Koch has already promised not to run for re-election next fall, but that might not be good enough for her fellow Republican legislators.
Several party leaders are publicly suggesting that she "consider" leaving the Senate.
"I would certainly say that if the allegations are true, if it were me I would leave the Senate," said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dave Thompson. "I don't know all the facts and therefore can't really say what she should do. I think if the allegations are true, I think it would be very difficult to remain an elected official."
Assistant majority leader David Hann added his two cents on KSTP this weekend, saying that he would "strongly consider leaving the Senate" if he were in Koch's position.
"But she has to make that decision and do what's best for her and her family going forward," Hann said.
Not everyone is trying to gently nudge her out the door. At least one assistant leader in the party wants her to stay.
"You know there were certainly some issues that arose the last week or so, but certainly on balance and over time she's done a great job," said assistant majority leader Dave Senjem, "and I would encourage her, frankly, to stay on."
Neither Koch nor Brodkorb have publicly commented on their departures from politics or the rumors of an affair.