A former Republican Party of Minnesota executive director's newly released allegations about party Chair Jennifer Carnahan casts doubt on her claims about how much she knew about his personal life.
Andy Aplikowski, the former executive director of the Republican Party of Minnesota, released a statement on Twitter at 6 a.m. Thursday detailing his story of "abusive leadership by Jennifer Carnahan and her connections to Anton 'Tony' Lazzaro."
Carnahan has been under pressure since Lazzaro, a political operative and major donor to the party, was arrested and indicted with multiple federal counts of child sex trafficking last week. A second person, 19-year-old Gisela Medina, the chair of the University of St. Thomas College Republicans, was also arrested and charged in connection to the child sex trafficking case.
Lazzaro's relationship with Carnahan was quickly the subject of focus, as it emerged he played her role in her party chair campaign in 2017, attended her wedding in California in 2018, and hosted a podcast with her in 2019.
In the days since Lazzaro was charged, numerous former staffers have detailed alleged sexual misconduct and harassment they were subject to within the GOP under Carnahan's leadership, and claim their complaints went un-addressed.
Carnahan, as a result, has faced calls to resign from many, including elected Republicans and the four most recent executive directors of the state Republican party, including Aplikowski. And Minnesota House Republican leaders have called for an investigation into the claims of harassment and assault.
In his two-page statement, Aplikowski said he was breaking his silence to "stand against the lies and distortions from Jennifer Carnahan about the toxic environment she created."
"The only way we can make this right and prevent it from happening again is without Jennifer Carnahan as chair of our party. She will never let the truth see the light of day, because in her narcissistic mind, it would ruin her brand," Aplikowski said.
Related [Aug. 15]: Jennifer Carnahan speaks out, says she's victim of 'coup' within the GOP
Among the claims in Aplikowski's statement is that Carnahan had an idea that Lazzaro was the subject of media interest as early as July, despite contending this week that she "found out when you guys [the media] found out" about his arrest, and that she "didn't have direct knowledge on the alleged criminal activities."
According to Aplikowski, the Minnesota GOP received an inquiry from Daily Beast reporter Josh Pagliery – who was the first to report the Lazzaro charges on Aug. 12 – in July, when Aplikowski was still the executive director.
Pagliery tweeted this week that he contacted the party in July about Lazzaro, and Aplikowski in his statement confirmed this as true. He said the reporter made an inquiry of July 19 asking about Lazzaro's status as a delegate to the National Convention, and alleges that Carnahan swore him to secrecy about the inquiry and said it wasn't anything to worry about.
"The red flag is, that the public revelation and questions about Lazzaro's 'lifestyle' were not publicly reported on until Aug. 12, 2021 ... So her claim that she was finding out information about his lifestyle along with everyone else in August is questionable at best."
On WCCO Radio Thursday, Apilowski reiterated this, saying: "I think that any claim that she didn't have any idea what was going on and that she learned with the rest of us is patently false."
Among the other allegations Aplikowski makes:
— Lazzaro's name came up in conversation between Applikowski and Carnahan in 2020, and "during the brief discussion I was told by her that 'I would not approve of his lifestyle.'"
— Lazzaro apparently made other financial contributions at Carnahan's request for her campaigns, which were not subject to reporting requirements.
— Apilkowski was paid $10,000 in exchange for signing his non-disclosure agreement, which included a non-disparagement clause.
"We now know that there have been multiple severance agreements with large payouts but we don't know how many or for how much," Apilkowski said. "This is donor money that could be used to help Republicans but instead Carnahan used donor money to silence former Republican staffers."
Bring Me The News has reached out to the Republican Party of Minnesota for comment on several points Apikowski made in his statement.