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Michael Brodkorb social media rules ordered Republicans to delete controversial material

After Republicans took control of the Minnesota Senate and made Michael Brodkorb communications director for the caucus, Brodkorb sent out a memo laying out the rules of social media.

Addressed to "all staff," the memo begins by explaining that caucus members have a stake in the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus' reputation. Social media, Brodkorb wrote, allows the party to promote its message to "hundreds, or even thousands of people, in a matter of seconds," but puts the party at risk when "missteps on these platforms" allow enemies to "poke holes" in the party's credibility.

So Brodkorb created seven rules for using social media, including one directing users to go through their Facebook and Twitter accounts and "clean up any potential controversial material."

Brodkorb's first rule prohibited members from posting material about the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus' "internal operations."

Mary Franson might've been saved if she were a Republican senator
Mary Franson might've been saved if she were a Republican senator

"When in doubt, think to yourself, would a liberal find this information useful in helping determining MNSRC strategy and tactics?" Brodkorb wrote.

Next, Brodkorb ordered staff to "avoid taking stands on contentious or controversial issues" and to "review all audio visual content for potentially controversial items," a piece of advice Rep. Mary Franson could've used before she compared food stamp recipients to animals.

As a rule of thumb, Brodkorb recommended staying within the Republican Party of Minnesota's platform.

For those who might've forgotten how the Internet works, Brodkorb warned thirdly: "VIRTUALLY NOTHING IS TRULY PRIVATE ON THE INTERNET" [emphasis Brodkorb's].

Rule number four asked members to "please take time to go back through your Facebook accounts and Twitter accounts to clean up any potential controversial material. Go through each photo, comment, Tweet and post and ensure that your views are accurately and appropriately displayed and remove items that can be misconstrued."

 

God help any Senate Republicans tweeting at Amy Klobuchar
God help any Senate Republicans tweeting at Amy Klobuchar

Not all of Brodkorb's rules forbid members from expressing themselves. Brodkorb's fifth rule for being a Republican social media user encourages retweeting and sharing Facebook posts coming from "Senators and the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus communications operation when you think appropriate."

But Brodkorb wasn't soft on the caucus for long. His very next rule (six) explained that members are forbidden from talking to media on behalf of the Senate caucus.

"Do not engage with the press, DFL members of the legislature or their staff, bloggers or citizen 'journalists' on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, comment Sections of news articles, etc. The only people authorized to speak on behalf of the caucus to the media are myself, Cullen Sheehan and Senators. [Emphasis Brodkorb's.]"

Finally, Brodkorb laid down the most sensible social media rule of all: Get rid of "Views expressed here are my own and not those of my employer."

"Please remove that phrase from your bios, it does not 'cover' you," Brodkorb wrote.

A Republican source who did not want to be identified passed along the memo. Brodkorb did not return a late email seeking comment. Check out this City Pages post analyzing Brodkorb's bizarre tweets after he was fired for having an affair with Amy Koch.

The full memo, originally sent to Senate Republicans January 2011, is posted on the next page.

 

TO: ALL STAFF
FROM: MICHAEL BRODKORB, Communications Director
RE: SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY
DATE: January 7, 2011

We all have a stake in upholding the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus' reputation. Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have given us all a way to promote our message to hundreds, or even thousands of people, in a matter of seconds. As representatives of the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus, your posts (whether you mean them to or not) will be seen as representing the views and positions of the MNSRC.

The upside side is that these social media platforms make it very easy to connect with constituents and drive our message throughout session. The downside is that our opponents will treat any missteps on these platforms as an opportunity to poke holes in our credibility. In addition to our friends, candidates, elected representatives and GOP activists, each and every one of us is also being watched by the news media and targeted by liberal organizations and activists.

Let me be very clear - we want, and strongly encourage, you to be very active users of social media. That being said, Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus employees should abide by the following policies and guidelines for social media use in order to avoid the pitfalls from such activity:

Geoff Michel held a press conference detailing Amy Koch's "inappropriate relationship" with a "senate staffer." Good thing he didn't tweet it
Geoff Michel held a press conference detailing Amy Koch's "inappropriate relationship" with a "senate staffer." Good thing he didn't tweet it

1) Posting material about the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus' internal operations is prohibited. When in doubt, think to yourself, would a liberal find this information useful in helping determining MNSRC strategy and tactics?

2) Avoid taking stands on contentious or controversial issues. Please review all audio visual content for potentially controversial items. Stay within the bounds of the Republican Party of Minnesota Platform as a rule of thumb when it comes to issues, or follow the lead of the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus or Senate member's news releases as they relate to the issues of the day.

3) Be mindful that any personal information you disclose about yourself or colleagues may be linked to the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus. Please be aware that even if you restrict your Facebook and Twitter pages to viewing only by friends, it's all too easy for someone to copy material out of restricted pages and redirect it elsewhere for wider viewing. REMEMBER: VIRTUALLY NOTHING IS TRULY PRIVATE ON THE INTERNET.

Rep. Tony Cornish is another house Republican who could benefit from reading Brodkorb's rules
Rep. Tony Cornish is another house Republican who could benefit from reading Brodkorb's rules

4) With #3 in mind, please take time to go back through your Facebook accounts and Twitter accounts to clean up any potential controversial material. Go through each photo, comment, Tweet and post and ensure that your views are accurately and appropriately displayed and remove items that can be misconstrued.

5) You are encouraged to retweet and share Facebook posts coming from the Senators and the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus communications operation when you think appropriate.

6) Do not engage with the press, DFL members of the legislature or their staff, bloggers or citizen "journalists" on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, comment Sections of news articles, etc. The only people authorized to speak on behalf of the caucus to the media are myself, Cullen Sheehan and Senators.

7) Adding the phrase: "Views expressed here are my own and not those of my employer" on your Facebook page or Twitter account does not exempt you, in the press' eyes or liberal organizations' eyes, from being a representative of the Caucus. Please remove that phrase from your bios, it does not "cover" you.

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