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Jennifer Carnahan out as MN GOP chair, reportedly gets 3 months severance

In a statement, she blamed 'mob mentality' for her ouster.

Jennifer Carnahan is out as the chairwoman of the Republican Party of Minnesota.

During a meeting of MN GOP State Executive Board Thursday evening, Carnahan, who ascended to the position in 2017, confirmed she would be stepping down from her role.

It comes after a week of controversy sparked by the indictment of Anton Lazzaro for child sex trafficking, and subsequently led to a multitude of complaints of harassment and sexual assault within the GOP under Carnahan's watch.

The state executive board were tied in a 7-7 vote to give Carnahan a three month severance package worth $38,000 (Carnahan had initially sought eight months), but party activist Sherri Auclair said Carnahan herself voted in favor to make it an 8-7 vote to approve the severance deal.

Carnahan then confirmed her resignation shortly after the vote, with the amount of severance approved not going down well with some in attendance.

In a statement, Carnahan blamed her ousting on "mob mentality" that she says reflects an effort to "defame, tarnish, and attempt to ruin my personal and professional reputation.

"I am confident a full investigation will uncover the facts and prove my innocence," she continues. "However, I signed up for this party to help us elect Republicans and I want to ensure we can 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 as chairwoman, effective upon the conclusion of tonight's Executive Committee meeting, and step away from the party."

Carnahan also said that she had no involvement or knowledge of Lazzaro's alleged activities, but made no mention of the numerous other complaints of sexual assault and harassment within the party, nor of the victims who came forward."

Pressure has built on Carnahan since the Aug. 12 arrest of Lazzaro, a Republican strategist charged with numerous counts of child sex trafficking and close ally of Carnahan.

The two co-hosted multiple podcasts and were pictured together at a Minnesota Vikings game. Lazzaro was involved in Carnahan's effort to become the party chair, and was a guest at Caranhan and Hagedorn's 2018 wedding. Lazzaro has also donated thousands of dollars to Hagedorn's political campaigns in recent years. 

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Earlier Thursday, former GOP party executive Andy Aplikowski said Carnahan, last year, told him he "would not approve" of Lazzaro's "lifestyle." Aplikowski also provided accounts that suggest Carnahan was aware of outside interest in Lazzaro weeks before his arrest.

Amid all of this, multiple former staffers have gone public with stories of sexual harassment and misconduct they endured while working for the party during Carnahan's reign – and their subsequent complaints went un-investigated – while former directors describe the "toxic environment" that Carnahan engendered. 

Carnahan denied the claims and characterized the stories as coming from disgruntled individuals.

The events of the last week prompted many local party leaders to call for her resignation.

Carnahan called on the Minnesota GOP executive board to hold a confidence vote in her leadership, promising to "honor and respect their decision."

Carnahan was first elected as chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota in 2017, becoming the first Asian American to hold that position. She was reelected in 2019 and 2021.

Nineteen-year-old Gisela Medina, who briefly served as chair of the Minnesota College Republicans' University of St. Thomas chapter, was charged along with Lazzaro as a co-defendant in the sex trafficking case.

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