Laura Brod photo scandal revealed


Laura Brod, a former member of the Minnesota House of Representatives and current member of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents, has released a statement admitting a boudoir photo on the internet is her.

"The Brod Family loves each other, and we stand united against anyone who would seek to do us harm," the statement reads. "Specifically, someone has posted a photo — which was illegally disseminated — on the Internet for the sole purpose of embarrassing our family and damaging our reputations. We cannot begin to explain why someone would be so mean, and so hateful. Nor can we overstate the humiliation they have caused."

The photo appears on a single-serve Tumblr site called "ThisIsAPicture-OfLauraBrod." It first came to City Pages' attention early last week when an anonymous email provided a link to the site. Several days later, a link to the site was tweeted out by Shawn Towle, a former DFL activist and publisher of the political site Checks And Balances.

"She's on TV speaking for the party on occasion, she sits on the Board of Regents, so she has a particular public reach," Towle told City Pages in explaining why he tweeted out the link. "And if you're going to be a moralist, and state your opinion on what you think should be happening, then when you have indiscretions I think you're fair game."

The photo is undated and there's no indication of when it was taken. If the photo was taken sometime between 2004 and 2010, that was when Laura Brod was a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. As a family-values Republican, Brod advocated against abortion rights and gay marriage.

City Pages first contacted Laura Brod through her assistant Molly Smith. Smith said Brod was in a meeting. Several subsequent calls to Smith, as well as to Brod's personal line, were not returned.

Unable to get answers, City Pages then called the University of Minnesota Board of Regents. Spokesman Chuck Tombarge was unaware of the photo when City Pages reached him on his cell phone. After City Pages provided the URL for the Tumblr hosting the photo, Tombarge visited the site and provided his live reaction over the phone.

"That is ... that's really bad," Tombarge said. "It sure doesn't look like her in my opinion. I will ... let me do some checking into that and I can give you a call back if we have any reaction. Not sure whether or not we will."

Later that afternoon, City Pages again attempted to contact Brod, both at her phone number and through her assistant Smith. Shortly afterward, Smith sent City Pages the statement from Brod.

"As embarrassing as this entire incident is, we know the larger nightmare of harassment, cyber-stalking, and privacy invasion is not unique to us, and we plan to fight back with everything we have," the statement reads. "This matter has been referred to the FBI and we are pursuing all legal means possible to prosecute whoever is responsible for the illegal dissemination of this material."

But the FBI won't speak about the issue.

"At this point, I'm not able to confirm or deny any existing investigations," says Kyle Loven, the chief division counsel and media coordinator for the FBI in Minneapolis.

Brod was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2002 to serve District 25A, and was subsequently re-elected in 2004, 2006, and 2008. In May 2010, she announced that she would not seek re-election, explaining "that the time for others to serve in the Legislature for our district has come, and my time to find other challenges and ways to contribute is upon me."

In February 2011, she was elected to the U of M's Board of Regents, along with Minnesota House Speaker Steve Sviggum, in a joint meeting of the state House and Senate. She was slated to serve a six-year term on the 12-member board.

At one time she was considered a possible candidate for the governor's seat to succeed Tim Pawlenty, but pulled out citing medical concerns.

In her statement to City Pages, Brod wrote, "We will have no further comment on this matter," although there are many questions left unanswered.

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