Michael Brodkorb plans to sue Minnesota Senate for defamation

Michael Brodkorb served the Minnesota Senate with notice yesterday that he will be suing for defamation in addition to gender discrimination.

At issue is Brodkorb's firing by Secretary of the Senate Cal Ludeman after former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch was forced to resign for having an "inappropriate relationship" with Brodkorb last December. Brodkorb alleges that he was treated differently than female staffers who slept with legislators.

Brodkorb had been in talks with the Senate to resolve the claim through mediation but they broke down last month. Ludeman released a statement to the press accusing Brodkorb of trying to "extort" a payment from the Senate with "blackmail." That statement forms the basis of Brodkorb's forthcoming defamation claim.

Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem told the Star Tribune the Senate would "deal with that," meaning the lawsuit. Secretary of the Senate Ludeman has not commented on the claim.

Cal Ludeman accused Michael Brodkorb of extortion
Cal Ludeman accused Michael Brodkorb of extortion

We asked St. Paul defamation attorney Pat Tierney to weigh in on Brodkorb's claim.

Tierney said he doesn't know the specifics of the case but says charges of "extortion" and "blackmail" are serious. A major issue in the defamation case going forward, Tierney said, will be whether the charges are "true or substantially true."

"A statement may be considered substantially true if it is a reasonable interpretation of the events," Tierney said. "The question is this: If someone says pay me money to settle my claim or I may need to depose all legislators and staffers who have been reputed to have had sexual relationships, is it reasonable to interpret that statement as blackmail or extortion?"

The notice of claim is the latest episode in the scandal that toppled former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and ended Brodkorb's reign as a top man in Republican politics.


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