Embattled Minnesota Republican Party leader resigns

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FILE - In This July 19, 2017, file photo, Jennifer Carnahan, chairwoman of the Minnesota Republican Party, poses for a photo in St. Louis Park, Minn. The embattled chair of the Minnesota Republican Party has asked other state party leaders to hold a vote of confidence on her continued leadership amid the uproar over the indictment of a major GOP donor and a College Republican chapter leader on sex trafficking charges. In a letter Monday Aug. 16, 2021, to party activists, Carnahan said she wants the vote held soon. (Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune via AP, File)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The embattled leader of the Minnesota Republican Party has been forced to resign following accusations that she ran a “morally bankrupt” operation that was rife with verbal abuse, intimidation and sexual misconduct.

Jennifer Carnahan initially resisted calls to resign, saying she had no knowledge of sex-trafficking allegations against a prominent donor and a local college Republican chapter leader. She said a “mob mentality came out in this way to defame, tarnish and attempt to ruin my personal and professional reputation.”

Late Thursday, the party's 15-member board voted 8-7 to give Carnahan three months salary, about $38,000. Carnahan cast the deciding vote on her severance.

The board also approved investigations into the party's finances and human resources protocols.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve as chairwoman for the Republican Party of Minnesota,” Carnahan said in a statement after the vote. “However, I signed up for this party to help us elect Republicans and I want to ensure that we can continue to do that.”

Calls for Carnahan to step down intensified after a close friend, GOP donor Anton “Tony” Lazzaro, was arrested on federal sex-trafficking charges. Carnahan insisted she knew nothing about the allegations against him before his indictment was unsealed last week.

Carnahan was also accused of creating a toxic workplace environment in which personal and professional lines were blurred, concerns about sexual harassment ignored, and employees who didn’t fall in line were subjected to retaliation.

Earlier this week, the four most recent executive directors of the Republican Party of Minnesota released a statement strongly condemning her leadership.

“Ten years ago, Chair Tony Sutton resigned because under his leadership, the Republican Party of Minnesota was financially bankrupt. Today, the Party is morally bankrupt due to the leadership of Chair Jennifer Carnahan,” the statement read.

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