Jennifer Carnahan resigns as chair of Minnesota GOP

Carnahan will reportedly receive around $38,000 in severance pay.

Jennifer Carnahan speaks at the Minnesota GOP's election night party in November. (MN GOP/YouTube)

Republican Party of Minnesota Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan announced her resignation Thursday night, exactly a week after the arrest of Tony Lazzaro on federal sex trafficking charges.

The announcement came shortly after the party’s 15-member executive board voted 8-7 to give Carnahan a severance package worth three months of pay, with Carnahan casting the deciding vote in favor of the severance, according to reporter Rebecca Brannon.

Carnahan said it is in the best interest of the party and her mental health for her to step down. The executive board was set to take a no-confidence vote if she didn’t resign.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve as chairwoman for the Republican Party of Minnesota,” she said in a statement.

The executive board will now call a meeting of the state central committee so delegates can pick the next chair. That meeting must happen within 45 days.

Some activists were “disgusted” that she was able to vote on issues related to her own employment.

The meeting was “partially closed,” according to HR director Ron Huettl, meaning it was open only to members of the board and state central committee delegates and alternates. Carnahan attended virtually.

Lazzaro was reportedly a close friend of Carnahan, who “actively encouraged his complete immersion into the party structure and the homes of activists and donors,” Republican National Committeewoman Barb Sutter said.

Lazzaro’s arrest unleashed a torrent of allegations against Carnahan online as former party activists and staffers felt compelled to speak up about the toxic environment she created within the Minnesota GOP.

Ahead of Thursday night’s meeting, six members of the executive board sent a letter to party activists and indicated that they supported Carnahan’s removal as chair.

“The situation would have been damaging with any donor, but Tony was different. Through his relationship with Chair Carnahan he was involved at every level of the MNGOP. He was a donor who helped make payroll when times were tight, he was a campaign consultant, he had a PAC, he was on the board of the fundraising committee known as the Elephant Club, he hosted a podcast with the Chair, and he donated to Republican candidates far and wide,” the letter said.

“From that point this monumental crisis grew beyond anything we could have imagined.”

Concerned activists gathered outside the Minnesota GOP’s headquarters in Edina during the meeting to call for Carnahan’s removal.

Get caught up: 

Republican donor arrested on child sex trafficking charges in Minneapolis

Minnesota GOP chair faces calls to resign after friend and donor arrested for sex trafficking

19-year-old arrested in connection to Anton Lazzaro sex trafficking charges

Carnahan resists calls to resign as accusers speak out

Ex-staffers describe Carnahan’s reign of ‘grudges, retaliation, and intimidation’