The Paynesville Warbler (
by Steve Timmer
Jun 23, 2013, 10:00 AM

“I think there has been an incredible double standard here”

Sings the Paynesville Warbler

The Paynesville Warbler — even more marvelously named than I thought — is Senator Michelle Fischbach, the former Mme President of the Senate. She was part of Senate leadership during the brief interregnum when the Republicans were in the majority.

She had a heart-to-heart conversation with Michael Brodkorb after his political assassination by Cal Ludeman in December 2011, agreeing with Brodkorb’s view that he had been unfairly treated:

Brodkorb and Fischbach, in their conversation on the tape, alluded to similar romantic relationships in the Capitol where the employee was not fired. “I think there has been an incredible double standard here,” Fischbach said in the recording.

The statement — or “admission” as we lawyers like to call it — came to light this morning in a story in the Strib that you can read at the link. I can tell you that Brodkorb’s lawyers positively squirm with delight at the prospect of playing the tape to a jury and putting Mme Former President on the stand to confirm it.

Senate counsel is also squirming, but it ain’t with delight.

Fischbach rails at the ham-handed handling of the, um, entire affair by her colleagues:

Koch elected to step down from leadership [after being confronted about the affair with Brodkorb], citing personal reasons. Within 24 hours, the group of senators, led by Michel, disclosed Koch’s affair to the public. [This was done in what is called the Scarlet Letter Award Ceremony.] Koch quietly served out her term and did not seek re-election.

Fischbach went on to say she partly blamed brazen political ambition for the way senators confronted Koch and fired Brodkorb. She noted that it was known that [Geoff “the Deputy”] Michel and David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, two of the senators who pressed Koch about the affair in the secret meeting, wanted the leadership job.

“That really pisses me off,” Fischbach said in the recording. Michel, who did not seek re-election, could not be reached for comment. Hann, now the Senate minority leader, said Thursday that he knew of the recording but has not listened to it. “I don’t feel any need to comment at this time,” said Hann, who is considering a gubernatorial bid.

David Hann’s moral probity apparently speaks for itself. As does his brazen political ambition.

Update: Toward the end of the taped conversation, it dawns on Mme Former President Fischbach that her words could come back to haunt her, and that she has committed the cardinal political sin of being candid:

Toward the end of the roughly 30-minute conversation, Brodkorb said he wanted his job back and pressed Fishbach to agree with him.

Fischbach grew reserved. She asked Brodkorb to never mention that they had discussed his firing.

“I am not asking you to lie, but I’d ask you not indicate to anybody that you and I have talked,” she said.

“I won’t,” Brodkorb said.

“I don’t have full knowledge, so to get me in the middle of it would be a problem,” Fischbach said.

Brodkorb said he understood, but offered a warning [which is included in the Strib story].

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