Minnesota GOP Leader Casts Deciding Vote for Severance, Resigns Over Misconduct Accusations

The embattled leader of the Minnesota Republican Party cast the deciding vote on her severance as she was forced to resign over allegations of sexual misconduct, verbal abuse and intimidation.

Late Thursday, the party's 15-member board voted 8-7 to give Jennifer Carnahan three months salary as severance. The board also approved investigations into finances and human resources protocols for the party.

Carnahan initially resisted calls to resign, and denied any knowledge of sex-trafficking allegations against a prominent donor to the Republican party. The donor, Anton "Tony" Lazzaro, was a close friend of Carnahan's and was indicted by a federal grand grand jury on Aug. 13, 2021.

"Our party has faced difficult circumstances this past week with the indictment of one of our party's major donors for the heinous acts of sex trafficking and obstruction of justice," Carnahan said in a statement released after the vote Thursday. "I want to be very clear in unequivocally stating I had no knowledge or involvement in those activities. I trust that justice will be served, and he will spend the rest of his life in prison."

Carnahan similarly denied the accusations of sexual misconduct against her that she ultimately decided to resign over, saying: "I am confident a full investigation will uncover the facts and prove my innocence."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Jennifer Carnahan
Former Minnesota Republican Party chair Jennifer Carnahan resigned over sexual misconduct allegations, and was the deciding vote on her severance. Carnahan looks on during the national anthem during a rally for Donald Trump at the Bemidji Regional Airport on September 18, 2020 in Bemidji, Minnesota. Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Carnahan said a "mob mentality came out in this way to defame, tarnish and attempt to ruin my personal and professional reputation."

"It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve as chairwoman for the Republican Party of Minnesota," Carnahan said in a statement after the vote. "However, I signed up for this party to help us elect Republicans and I want to ensure that we can continue to do that."

Calls for Carnahan to step down intensified after Lazzaro, was arrested on federal sex-trafficking charges. Carnahan insisted she knew nothing about the allegations against Lazzaro before his indictment was unsealed last week.

Carnahan was also accused of creating a toxic workplace environment in which personal and professional lines were blurred, concerns about sexual harassment ignored, and employees who didn't fall in line were subjected to retaliation.

Earlier this week, the four most recent executive directors of the Republican Party of Minnesota released a statement strongly condemning her leadership.

"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," the statement read.

Jennifer Carnahan Resignation
Jennifer Carnahan, leader of the Minnesota Republican Party, has been forced to resign, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, following accusations that she ran a "morally bankrupt" operation that was rife with verbal abuse, intimidation and sexual misconduct. In This July 19, 2017, file photo, Carnahan, chairwoman of the Minnesota Republican Party, poses for a photo in St. Louis Park, Minn. Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune via AP, File