The indictment of GOP donor Tony Lazzaro on sex trafficking charges caused the Minnesota Republican Party chair to resign and reduced the party to ruins.
Nine months later, the resignation of the Minnesota Republican Party’s embattled chair, Jennifer Carnahan, on Thursday night marked a new low for a state party in decline.
The proximate cause of Carnahan’s departure was a firestorm that engulfed the party in recent days after a GOP donor she was close to, Anton “Tony” Lazzaro, was indicted on federal sex trafficking charges. A pile-on ensued, with Carnahan, the wife of Republican U.S.Rep. Jim Hagedorn, accused by party officials and former staffers of running a toxic, retaliatory workplace, mismanaging party finances, and, through the use of non-disclosure agreements, squashing transparency.
Minnesota Republican Party Brought Down By Financial Corruption And A Child Sex Trafficker
Republicans have had their eyes on Minnesota for years. They have long believed that they could offset Democratic gains in other regions of the country, like the South and Southwest, by turning Minnesota red. The Trump campaign heavily targeted the state in 2020, and the GOP was hoping to make more gains in 2022 and 2024.
Those hopes have gone up in smoke, as four former officials in the state party are calling for an outside financial audit because of potentially rampant financial mismanagement.
The Lazzaro indictment was the match that lit the fire, but the culture of corruption that was embraced by many state and local Republican parties in the era of Trump is not limited to Minnesota.
Ironically, for a party that is so obsessed with culture wars, Republicans have a culture problem. Trumpism has infested some parties with moral rot.
The Minnesota Republican Party is one high-profile example of a much larger and looming problem in the GOP.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association