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'Morally bankrupt': Four former MN GOP executive directors call on Carnahan to resign

An increasing number of current and former party executives are calling for the embattled chairwoman to step down.
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The four most recent executive directors of the Republican Party of Minnesota under Jennifer Carnahan's leadership have issued a statement calling for her resignation, declaring the party "morally bankrupt" with her in charge amid the revelations of the past week.

In a fiery statement, Kevin Poindexter (GOP executive director from May '18 – Nov. '19), Becky Alert (Nov. '19 – Oct. '20), Christine Snell (Feb–Apr. '21), and Andy Aplikowski (May–Aug. '21) spoke out after the non-disclosure agreements "that have silenced the four of us" have now been lifted by the party.

"As the four most recent MN GOP executive directors under Carnahan, we have a unique perspective into the toxic environment, inappropriate behavior, and manipulation that she has facilitated," the statement reads.

They go on to accuse Carnahan, HR director Ron Huettl, and some members of the party's executive committee of pushing "blatant lies" as stories of harassment, threats, and un-investigated complaints emerged in the week that has followed the indictment of Anton Lazzaro, a GOP donor who at times worked closely with Carnahan, for child sex trafficking.

"Carnahan rules by grudges, retaliation, and intimidation," it continues, accusing her of withholding lists from candidates for party officers so "her chosen person" could "have a leg up," and accuses her of blocking hires due to personal vendettas, and allegedly attempting to thwart former employees from getting jobs in other fields.

"But who could we turn to? The HR director Ron Huettl who just sent out a glowing review, calling Carnahan the 'most staff-friendly, compassionate' Chair he has ever worked for?" it says, alleging that Huettl would share staff complaints with Carnahan, "violating his HR trust."

"And, most disturbing of all, we now know from the multitude of young women coming forward that Carnahan used her power to cover up allegations of sexual harassment and abuse. These credible allegations are sickening and the fact that these women were silenced by Carnahan and her HR department is beyond shameful."

The past 48 hours have seen several women, including the current and former chairs of the Minnesota College Republicans, detail the alleged sexual misconduct or harassment they were subjected to during the time they spent in the party.

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In radio interviews she gave Tuesday, Carnahan suggested that those coming forward have personal vendettas against her, and is adamant that the conduct of both herself and her team at the GOP followed all HR guidelines and practices.

The four former executive directors aren't the only people who've joined the growing number of party supporters calling for Carnahan's resignation ahead of an executive board meeting Thursday.

RNC National Committeeman Max Rymer, who is a member of the party's executive board, says he will vote to remove Carnahan if she does not resign.

In order for a removal vote to be successful, it needs the support of 10 out of 15 committee members.

"The accusations of workplace abuse, sexual harassment, attempts to silence, and toxic environment are vast, believable, and must all be independently investigated," he said.

BMTN has reached out to the Minnesota GOP for comment.

The full statement from the four former executive directors

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.

This week, thanks to the courageous efforts of a few of the MN GOP State Executive Committee members, the NDAs that have silenced the four of us and many others have been lifted. Since it appears that may change again in just over 24 hours, we felt it was important to take this opportunity – together – to make our voices heard before we are silenced again.

As the four most recent MN GOP Executive Directors under Carnahan, we have a unique perspective into the toxic environment, inappropriate behavior and manipulation that she has facilitated. While we did not have knowledge of many of the saddening stories of sexual assault or harassment, unfortunately, we can corroborate and back up many of the other stories that have been shared to date.

While Carnahan points to her re-election percentage as to why she should remain, we would argue that race may have had a different outcome if those of us under NDAs – some with non-disparagement clauses – were able to share our stories. And now, due to the blatant lies being pushed by Carnahan, HR Director Ron Huettl, other members of the Executive Committee, and members of the Personnel Committee we believe that it is our duty to do just that. To share our stories while we still can.

Carnahan ruled by grudges, retaliation, and intimidation. She delayed sharing lists from candidates for a variety of party offices so “her chosen person” could have a leg up. She blocked hires for the Victory program and the state party because she had a personal vendetta with the prospective employee or because they had filed a complaint against another employee. And she has thwarted former staffers from getting other jobs in our field or even tried to get them fired by complaining to their superiors.

Carnahan created an extremely toxic work environment, often yelling, demeaning and questioning loyalty. We would be reprimanded if we did not glowingly ‘pump up’ and stroke the ego of Carnahan in our rare public appearances. It has been all too common for her to cross professional boundaries by including staff in personal issues and drama. We have all accidentally received messages clearly meant for her friends containing private information of a personal nature that made us very uncomfortable. And, while we all understand the political world includes long hours, the chair would cross work/life boundaries on a nearly daily basis with calls and texts at all hours – often to discuss nothing related to the workplace or Republican cause.

But who could we turn to? The HR Director Ron Huettl who just sent out a glowing review, calling Carnahan the most “staff-friendly, compassionate” Chair he has ever worked for? And who often shared staff complaints with Carnahan violating his HR trust where the information was used against them? Or the Personnel Committee handpicked by Carnahan and filled with her best friends who she likes to gossip with?

And, most disturbing of all, we now know by the multitude of young women coming forward that Carnahan used her power to cover up allegations of sexual harassment and abuse. These credible allegations are sickening and the fact that these women were silenced by Carnahan and her HR department is beyond shameful.

Make no mistake, Carnahan not only refuses to accept her own responsibility for the mountain of dirty laundry being aired in recent days, she thinks she is the victim. Thankfully, we only suffered severe emotional and physical torment from the long hours and wrath of Carnahan.

Our hearts go out to victims and survivors of Carnahan who have had no choice but to go public with their shocking stories in the hopes that people would stop protecting Carnahan. It is time to stop believing the lies and put an end to the toxic, retaliatory, and dramatic reign of Carnahan.

Carnahan is very much the person the supposed “coup” is making her out to be. She has successfully insulated herself with loyal staff and packed the State Executive Board and committees with people who will vote exactly how she wants them to protect her. If Carnahan wasn’t willing to drag down Big Brothers Big Sisters with this chaos, why would she not afford Republicans in this state the same opportunity of a clean slate?

We cannot continue to allow Carnahan to denigrate this organization and tarnish the Republican brand – it is not the Carnahan brand – while continuing to drive well-intentioned, talented, and active republicans to the curb. We cannot allow Carnahan and Huettl to continue to ignore the dozens of stories of victims of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and a hostile work environment.

We each have our own stories to share, and plan to do so. But, today, we stand united in our resolve that the state and our party deserve better than Carnahan as Chair.

We are calling for the immediate resignation of Carnahan, an independent investigation into the HR department along with an external financial audit.

If she will not resign, we implore the State Executive Committee, many of whom know the four of us closely, to listen to us, hear our stories, and make the right decision to end this cycle of pain and chaos.

There is still time to salvage the 2022 election cycle and prevent the atrocities we have heard from continuing to occur under her regime, but it will take swift decisive action. It will be impossible for our Party to earn back the trust of delegates, donors, activists, staff, and voters if Carnahan remains Chair.

Please stay tuned for more about our experiences working for the Republican Party of Minnesota under Jennifer Carnahan.

Signed,

Kevin Poindexter (MN GOP Executive Director May 2018 – November 2019)

Becky Alery (MN GOP Executive Director November 2019 – October 2020)

Christine Snell (MN GOP Executive Director February 2021 – April 2021)

Andy Aplikowski (MN GOP Political Director May 2020 – November 2020, Contractor April 2021, Executive Director May 2021 – August 2021)

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