Was The Brodkorb Firing Just A “Palace Coup?”

Michael Brodkorb, the Republican Minnesota Senate Communications Director who was fired for having an extramarital affair with former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch (R-Buffalo), is in the midst of a media blitz to frame his firing as being nothing more than collateral damage from a “palace coup” on behalf of Senator David Hann (R-Eden Prairie).

Those darn Republican l’élite politique francophiles, always showing off their French.   To translate for the commoners:  The bard Brodkorb claims Prince David used the royal tryst as a political weapon to clear the way for him to take possession of Queen Amy’s throne.

Brodkorb’s palace coup d’état allegation is not implausible.  But beyond Brodkorb’s assertion, my guess is that there were multiple motives behind Brodkorb’s firing:

  • HR Propriety.  In the face of this news, there may have been legitimate workplace management reasons to remove Brodkorb.  For instance, corporate Human Relations (HR) Departments sometimes worry that such affairs can cloud the ability of the lovebirds to be objective in their decision making, and can create the reality or perception of favoritism that can harm operations and/or make the organization legally liable in the future.
  • Brodkorb Coup.  Brodkorb is a bare knuckle political brawler.  Because of that, many Republicans Senators that were bruised and bloodied by Mr. Brodkorb over the years may have resented his style enough to want HIM gone.  In other words, the coup may have been aimed at the Queen’s staff more than the Queen.
  • Political Damage Control.  Mr. Brodkorb is not just any staffer.  For years he has been in the center of high profile political battles, practicing his scorched Earth approach to both politics and governance.  He is Minnesota’s version of Karl Rove, except more bombastic and more fond of the limelight.  Because of Brodkorb’s fame or infamy, depending on your point of view, his involvement in the romantic rendezvous made the whole matter infinitely more newsworthy than your more run-of-the-mill staff-politician affair.  Because it was more newsworthy, it was more political damaging for Republicans.  Because it was more political damaging, it needed to be nipped in the bud.

The current Republican Senate leadership wants Minnesotans to think this was ALL about them being proper business managers doing what any by-the-book corporate HR Director would do.  But it is difficult to believe that there wasn’t also an element of Koch coup, Brodkorb coup, and political damage control involved in their decision to fire Brodkorb.

My speculation is that political damage control was the top motivation for the firing, not a burning desire to oust Senator Koch, and not workplace law propriety.  But no one can know for sure.

The other interesting thing about Brodkorb’s media tour is the timing of it.  The timing was driven by the judge in Brodkorb’s lawsuit lifting a gag order on Friday.  But a guy like  Brodkorb, who lives and breathes electoral politics, also is fully aware that he is bringing the Repubilican’s most humiliating story back to the front pages just three weeks before the Republicans have to face surly voters, who already give the GOP-controlled Legislature the lowest approval rating on record.

It may or may not be true that Hann was using the Brodkorb-Koch affair as a political weapon in a palace coup.  But it certainly is true that Mr. Brodkorb is using a potent political weapon in his current media tour.

– Loveland

Photo by Talking Points Memo (TPM)

Note:  This post was also featured as a “Best of the Blogs” in the Politics in Minnesota Morning Report, and a “best of the best” in MinnPost’s Blog Cabin feature.