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More elected Republicans urging embattled GOP chair Carnahan to resign

It's over her close connection to Anton Lazzaro, who's accused of child sex trafficking.

Support for the leader of the Minnesota Republican Party continued to erode over the weekend, with more GOP state lawmakers publicly calling for her to step down as party chair.

This comes in the wake of the arrest of Anton Lazzaro, a top Republican donor and operative who is now charged in a child sex trafficking conspiracy.

Lazarro has close ties with Jennifer Carnahan, who has served as chair of the state GOP since 2017. Following Carnahan's rise to power, the two hosted a podcast together, while Carnahan's husband — U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn — was the recipient of one of Lazzaro's largest donations, to the tune of $31,000.

Though authorities have not yet released anything suggesting Carnahan was aware of Lazzaro's alleged activities, she was criticized for not responding to his arrest until Friday, when she issued a statement condemning "in the highest possible terms" the crimes he's accused of.

Nonetheless, at least two prominent Republicans responded by calling on her to resign. 

On Friday evening, Sen. Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes) became the first sitting lawmaker to urge her to step down, saying she must do so "immediately."

He was soon joined by Kelly Fenton, a former state lawmaker and GOP party chair in Woodbury, who said Carnahan "is a liability to our Party and anyone running under our banner."

The list of elected Republicans echoing these calls is rapidly growing, with state Sen. Scott Jensen, a candidate for Minnesota governor, issuing a tweet on Saturday night:

On Sunday morning, Sen. Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake) released a statement saying Carnahan "has failed to act in the best interests of the Republican Party of Minnesota." She called on the party's Executive Board to remove her if she doesn't step down on her own:

Later in the morning, Sen. Julia Coleman (R-Chanhassen) urged Carnahan to "let us move forward" as a party by resigning her position.

House Republicans are also demanding Carnahan's departure, including Rep. Marion O'Neill, who wrote in a social media post, "if Jennifer Carnahan didn't have the wisdom to recognize the evil that works within, she is not fit to lead":

In addition, Carnahan received condemnation from a group of GOP House lawmakers who have branded themselves the New Republican Caucus: state representatives Steve Drazkowski, Tim Miller, Cal Bahr and Jeremy Munson. They released a statement calling not only for Carnahan's exit, but also others within her organization:

Carnahan is also under fire for her alleged use of threats and intimidation by some of her staffers, including Lazzaro, as well as the use of non-disclosure agreements with employees.

Bring Me The News reached out to the Minnesota GOP for comment on these allegations Friday afternoon, but has yet to receive a response.

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