If it smells like a power play…

Former Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch told WCCO Radio today she’s never watched (or listened to) the December 2011 press conference at which it was announced she’d resigned her leadership post because of an affair with a staffer.

She says she probably won’t ever watch it. That’s too bad, because looking back at it now, coupled with yesterday’s Star Tribune story, her claim that four of her male colleagues were staging a power play gains at least a fair amount of traction.

“There was a meeting at the Minneapolis Club where I was taken to under false pretenses, and those actors… I think they think their intentions were clear. They knew what they were doing going into it. As more intentions came to light, that became clear. What was particularly difficult to understand was the ferocity,” she told WCCO Radio’s Chad Hartman.

Even before Ms. Koch broke her silence with yesterday’s Star Tribune article, there was a stench around the story and timetable the Republican men — Sen. Chris Gerlach, R-Apple Valley, Sen. David Senjem, R-Rochester, Sen. Geoff Michel and Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie — painted at the news conference announcing Koch’s resignation.

That much was clear when former GOP staffer Cullen Sheehan later acknowledged to MPR’s Tom Scheck that the other Republican leaders knew about the alleged affair three months earlier than the timetable they outlined at the news conference by Sen. Geoff Michel.

At a hearing on his actions last spring, Sen. Michel insisted he played it by the book.

“The comment about the cover-up is political nonsense,” he said. “It was Senate Republican leadership who went to Sen. Koch to confront this. When she stepped down it was Senate Republican leadership who told the public the next day, rather than wait for it to come out in dribs and drabs. This 21st century media…. you guys act quickly.”

Now, however, elements of that story are falling in dribs and drabs.

We now know, for example, that Sen. Michel, in consort with lawyer Ron Rosenbaum (see comments for clarification. Rosenbaum’s involvement was passing Michel’s willingness to meet with WCCO, which came from Todd Rapp. The goal was for Michel to get the info to ‘CCO, but Rosenbaum wasn’t an architect of this), slipped the story of an affair to WCCO TV, apparently to Pat Kessler.

That’s a coup (of a different kind) for Kessler, but it still doesn’t explain the insistence via the Star Tribune story that the leak to WCCO had to occur to help the Republican men get on top of the story. Whatever pressure they claim to have felt in the situation, they intentionally created by leaking the story in the first place.

Compare that to what Sen. David Hann said when he was asked about the news conference announcing Koch’s resignation. “It’s a total surprise,” Hann told MPR News.

A surprise? It shouldn’t have been. Hann was one of the men who set Koch up at the Minneapolis Club.

The men insisted it was Koch who brought up the idea of resigning. But in her interview with the Star Tribune, that’s not how she remembers it:

At the end of the three-hour meeting, Koch said, Hann gave a clear directive: “He said, ‘You are going to resign tonight,’ ” and they were going to fire Brodkorb the next day.

The resignation was announced the next day at a news conference, and Hann told the Star Tribune why the news conference had to be held.

“There were a number of stories that were being circulated that we were aware of that were absolutely not true,” Hann told the Star Tribune. “Things being said needed to be corrected.”

“I think if he was trying to make the situation smaller by doing that, all evidence points very much to the contrary,” Koch said today. She’s right.

It was textbook politics. Create the dribs and drabs by leaking them, and then hold a news conference under the guise of needing to get out in front of the leaked information.

That, for the record, is how a power play works.