ST. PAUL, (AP) — A senior Minnesota legislative aide fired in connection with an affair involving a top GOP senator denied committing misconduct, a judge disclosed Thursday in a hearing about his request for unemployment benefits.
Michael Brodkorb is seeking to reverse a prior state decision that denied him benefits. Administrative judge Elizabeth Tessmer read from a form Brodkorb submitted as part of the appeal in which he wrote there was “no violation of any internal Senate policy. No employee misconduct.”
The hearing conducted by telephone was open to the media, but no supporting documents were considered public. No explanation has been given about why he was deemed ineligible for benefits.
The hearing didn’t delve into the intimate relationship he admitted having with then-Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, which cost Brodkorb his job as communications chief for the GOP caucus and Koch her leadership post.
Fallout from the affair stems far beyond the unemployment appeal. Brodkorb has threatened to sue the Senate, several senators and other staff members over his termination and alleged violations of his privacy. Another Republican senator is the subject of an ethics case over his internal response to the affair and information he supplied to the public.
No immediate decisions were made about whether Brodkorb is entitled to jobless benefits. Brodkorb was terminated from his $90,000-a-year job late last year after reports of the affair surfaced. Koch remained in the Senate but resigned her post.
Kevin Matzek, currently the top-ranking Republican Senate staff member, testified during the hearing that he met Wednesday with Koch and present Senate Majority Leader David Senjem on matters related to Brodkorb’s employment. Matzek said the conversation was about the job description for Brodkorb at the time he was hired, which could be relevant to his status as an at-will employee or something more secure.
Brodkorb attorney Gregory Walsh indicated he wants to subpoena other Senate officials and senators to testify in the matter. The attorney hired by the Senate, Dayle Nolan, objected to efforts to widen the proceeding.
“It seems to be either a delay tactic or a fishing expedition on their part,” she said.
Tessmer said she would rule at a later date on the subpoenas and the underlying case.
Roughly 10 percent of unemployment determinations are taken to the appeal stage, according to the Department of Employment and Economic Development. Of the 26,710 appeals last year, the appealing party won about 28 percent of the cases — a similar rate to the year before. Either an applicant for benefits or an affected employer is allowed appeals.