Minnesota GOP chair resigns following firestorm over indicted donor, harassment claims
Minnesota Republican Party chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan has agreed to resign amid mounting controversies over her alleged personal and professional conduct.
Backdrop: Carnahan's close relationship with Anton Lazzaro, a young GOP donor arrested on federal sex trafficking charges last week, sparked fresh scrutiny into her tumultuous tenure as leader.
- The Lazzaro scandal triggered a deluge of public accusations from former staff and activists who said she fostered a toxic work environment and failed to address sexual harassment allegations that emerged over the last year.
What happened: The MNGOP executive board voted 8-7 Thursday night to approve a three-month severance package, worth approximately $38,000, to seal her departure, Forum News Service reports. Carnahan was the deciding vote.
- The board also authorized investigations into the party's finances and HR protocols, per the Star Tribune.
What she's saying: Carnahan, who is married to Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing. In a statement issued Thursday, she said she is "confident a full investigation will uncover the facts and prove my innocence."
- “However, I signed up for this party to help elect Republicans and I want to ensure we continue to do that. At this point, it’s in the best interest of the party and my mental health to resign from my position."
Of note: Several executive board members allied with Carnahan also resigned Thursday.
What's next: GOP delegates will select a new leader as the state party seeks to rebuild ahead of the 2022 midterms. Costs related to the fallout, including a pledge to donate Lazzaro's sizable contributions to charity, threaten to further strain the party's financial troubles.
- "Right now there is no [Minnesota Republican Party] brand," GOP activist Sheri Auclair, told the Star Tribune. "Right now the state party is in ruins."
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