Embattled Minnesota GOP chair asks for vote of confidence

Published 1:32 pm Tuesday, August 17, 2021

ST. PAUL — 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 sent Monday to party activists, Jennifer Carnahan said she wants the vote held soon, Minnesota Public Radio reported.

“Some members of the State Executive Committee have called for my resignation, yet they have not brought up a motion to remove me from my position or taken that vote,” Carnahan wrote. “In order for us to move forward and be united as a party, I am calling on the State Executive Committee to take that vote of confidence or no confidence in my ability to continue serving as chair at the next State Executive Committee meeting.”

MPR reported that a meeting set for Thursday could include discussions of fallout from the indictment of donor Anton Lazzaro and University of St. Thomas College Republican Chair Gisela Castro Medina. Carnahan and and her husband, U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, are close friends with Lazzaro.

Carnahan recently came off a bruising reelection fight and still has opponents in the party who criticize her leadership style.

Calls for her removal have come from party activists and several elected Republicans since Lazzaro’s indictment was unsealed last week. He faces multiple federal sex-trafficking charges. The indictment says authorities know of six minors who may have been sexually exploited, and the FBI suspects there could be more.

In her letter, Carnahan again denied knowing about the alleged sex trafficking, which she has condemned, and accused her opponents of working “to destroy my chairmanship and defame my personal reputation.”

Carnahan’s letter included a list of Lazzaro donations totaling more than $270,000 to candidates, party units and political action committees over the past decade. Most recipients, including the state party, have said they will donate equivalent amounts to charity.