Skip to main content

Pictures from Minnesota GOP's South Dakota retreat show no masks, no distancing

The pictures were shared in Chair Jennifer Carnahan's latest email newsletter.
Screen Shot 2021-01-26 at 12.55.00 PM

The Minnesota GOP is once again under scrutiny for holding party events without observing COVID-19 face mask or social distancing recommendations.

Pictures shared in an email newsletter from Minnesota Republican Party chair Jennifer Carnahan show a large group of party members gathered at a weekend retreat in Deadwood, South Dakota, none of whom are wearing face masks or observing distancing advice.

Unlike Minnesota, South Dakota has no statewide business restrictions in place nor does it have a face mask mandate, but mask-wearing and mitigation efforts such as limiting close contact have been cited by health experts and scientists the world over as crucial for preventing the spread of the virus.

It comes a little over two months after Senate Republicans were heavily criticized for hosting a post-election dinner party in the Twin Cities where few masks were worn.

Several senators tested positive for COVID-19 after the event, with one of them – St. Cloud Sen. Jerry Relph – dying from complications of the virus.

And it comes after a year in which some state Republicans have downplayed the severity of the pandemic, refused to wear masks inside the State Capitol, and opposed business restriction measures designed to prevent the virus' spread.

One of the most prominent opponents of COVID restrictions is South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who has consistently ignored masking advice during campaign visits and touted her hands-off approach to the virus, despite South Dakota having the sixth highest per capita death rate in the country.

Sign up: Subscribe to our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

Carnahan's report about the Deadwood retreat is titled "A Free State," and she noted: "If only Gov. Walz would take a page out of Gov. Noem's playbook."

South Dakota Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden and State Auditor Rich Sattgast were among the guest speakers at the retreat, per Carnahan. 

Among the Minnesota lawmakers in attendance were Sen. Paul Utke, R-Park Rapids, – who was one of eight senators sworn in earlier this month while not wearing face masks – and Rep. Greg Boe, R-Chaska.

Bring Me The News has reached out to the Minnesota GOP for comment.

Here is the Mayo Clinic's guidance on face masks and COVID-19.

Next Up

shot clock

MSHSL approves shot clock for Minnesota varsity basketball

Shot clocks will be required at all varsity games beginning in 2023-24.

Redmons Popcorn Colbert screengrab

Popcorn shop featured on 'The Late Show' has to close the next day

A county inspection after the national TV appearance found code violations.

covid, vaccine

Minnesotan infected with omicron was vaccinated, had booster shot

The Hennepin County man received his booster shot in early November.

Timothy William Tuit

2 people plead guilty in fatal Dakota County home invasion

Two others charged in the incident will go to trial next year.

south lake minnetonka police department

25-year-old arrested after multi-city police chase in western suburbs

Police were called for a welfare check but learned it was a domestic violence incident.

Screen Shot 2021-12-02 at 8.34.54 AM

After getting COVID, Harrison Smith still not considering vaccine

The Vikings safety says he doesn't plan on getting vaccinated.


First omicron variant COVID case detected in MN

The individual is an adult male who lives in Hennepin County and had recently traveled.

wright county Sheriff Sean Deringer

Minnesota sheriff bashes MPD, 'disgusted' by officers' actions

The sheriff said he will no longer defend the Minneapolis Police Department.

Screen Shot 2021-12-02 at 7.59.52 AM

More than 2 years after announcing, Duck Donuts finally opens at MOA

The grand opening of the new location took place Wednesday.

unsplash - school girl students

St. Paul is closing 6 schools amid declining enrollment

The board revised the plan after the school communities voiced concerns.


Screen Shot 2020-07-26 at 7.36.36 AM

Minnesota GOP criticized over pictures of mask-less attendees at party event

Party leaders including Paul Gazelka and Kurt Daudt, and congressmen Pete Stauber and Jim Hagedorn were in attendance.

masks, coronavirus, covid-19

As Minnesota reopens, Walz says mask-wearing and distancing still vital

The practice of wearing face masks will be the 'last thing to go,' Walz said.


Sanford Health distances itself from its own CEO's views on face masks

The CEO said he wouldn't always wear a mask in public after recovering from COVID-19.

Screen Shot 2019-08-22 at 10.35.20 AM

Minnesota GOP's virtual state convention postponed after server issues

GOP chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan claims the party was victim of an alleged cyberattack.

masks, coronavirus, covid-19

Osterholm: It's time for a mask mandate, but social distancing more important

The state epidemiologist backs Gov. Walz ordering a mask mandate.

Screen Shot 2021-09-13 at 12.45.41 PM

Former state rep. out of race for GOP chair due to COVID infection

Jim Newberger had been aiming to replace the recently-resigned Jennifer Carnahan.

N95 mask

Wabasha County GOP shares meme likening mask-wearing to Holocaust

The group removed its Facebook page after sparking complaints.

FLckr - mn state fair crowd - keithminer

MDH urges mask wearing in large crowds – even when outdoors

The advice comes ahead of the opening of the Minnesota State Fair.