Minnesota GOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan rules “by grudges, retaliation, and intimidation,” four former staffers said in a blistering letter Wednesday, which accused the embattled chairwoman of using “her power to cover up allegations of sexual harassment and abuse.”
“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,” the four most recent executive directors of the party said in a joint letter, providing an apt summary of a scandal that could end Carnahan’s political career.
Carnahan’s collapse began Friday when it was revealed that her close friend and steady donor, Anton Lazzaro, was arrested on sex trafficking charges.
Then, the dam broke. Countless party activists and ex-staffers came forward with stories about Carnahan’s vindictive behavior, alleged financial corruption, supposed mishandling of sexual harassment claims, and more. Other anonymous complaints to this effect have been shared online.
“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,” said Kevin Poindexter, Becky Alery, Christine Snell, and Andy Aplikowski.
The four Republicans all worked directly with Carnahan as executive directors, a position notorious for its high turnover rate under Carnahan’s leadership.
“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,” they write.
But there was no one to turn to because all of the party’s HR positions were filled by Carnahan’s handpicked loyalists.
The timing of the letter was also key. The party’s executive committee is set to meet Thursday night and could place all four of them back under the terms of their non-disclosure agreements.
The four ex-staffers allege that it was Carnahan’s liberal and expansive use of NDAs that allowed her to win a third term as chair. Her critics were silenced.
They claim they suffered “severe emotional and physical torment from the long hours and wrath 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,” they say in their letter.
Like dozens of other Republican legislators and candidates, the four concluded their letter by calling for Carnahan’s resignation. She has thus far refused to resign but faces a vote of no-confidence Thursday night.
Read the full letter here.