MINNESOTA (WCCO) - A prominent Republican in the Minnesota Senate is calling for Minnesota GOP chair Jennifer Carnahan to resign following allegations that Anton Lazzaro, GOP operative and close ally, sex-trafficked minors.
Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, is an assistant to Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka. He is the first Republican currently serving in elected office to call for her resignation.
In his statement, Chamberlain said he was troubled by the representative's relationship with Lazzaro.
"MNGOP Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan must resign immediately. The charges against Anton Lazzaro of sex trafficking minors are deeply disturbing, disgusting, and repulsive, and Carnahan's close, ongoing relationship with him is troubling to say the least," said Chamberlain. "I find it impossible to believe she didn't know about his activities."
Chamberlain further expressed his concern over their friendship and said he "disavowed" Carnahan.
"That relationship is cause enough for Carnahan's resignation. The additional allegations of sexual assault, harassment, intimidation, and fraud that occurred on her watch simply make it all the more clear that she must step down immediately. I disavow her, Mr. Lazzaro, and their actions in the strongest possible terms," said Chamberlain.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Minnesota said Anton Lazzaro, 30, has been arrested and indicted on federal sex trafficking charges for allegedly recruiting six minor victims to engage in commercial sex acts. Since the court documents were made public Thursday, Lazzaro's ties to the party and Republicans in elected office have sparked questions and prompted politicians on both sides of the aisle to condemn the allegations.
Rep. Jim Hagedorn, who is married to Carnahan, posted a photo in 2017 on social media of him at a Vikings game with Carnahan and Lazzaro. Carnahan and Lazzaro also hosted a podcast together in 2019 and early 2020. The party chairwoman has made no mention of any personal connection to Lazzaro.
Kelly Fenton, a former Minnesota lawmaker, and GOP deputy party chair, also called for Carnahan's resignation Friday evening over Twitter.
On Saturday four more members from the Minnesota Republican Party Executive Board called for Carnahan to resign. In a released statement representatives Steve Drazkowski, Tim Miller, Cal Bahr, and Jeremy Munson expressed their concern over Carnahan's conflicts of interest.
"...we need a change in leadership. We have an elected leader with toxic conflicts of interest surrounding herself with a board that fails to act," said the statement. "Chair Carnahan needs to resign."
The representatives said the recent allegations against Lazzaro and his relationship with Carnahan, could damage the integrity of the entire Minnesota GOP party.
"The news of a close, personal friend and advisor to our state party chair being indicted and arrested for heinous crimes against children doesn't just look bad. It is bad. It affects members, volunteers, and donor's ability to trust the integrity of our organization," they said.
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