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'Guilt By Association Is Just Wrong': GOP Chair Carnahan Again Denies Knowledge Of Lazarro Sex Trafficking Accusations

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The leader of Minnesota's Republican Party is doubling down that she knew nothing about sex trafficking accusations against a former political strategist and friend.

Minnesota GOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan said on News Talk 830 WCCO's "The Paul and Jordana Show" Tuesday afternoon that she met Anton "Tony" Lazzaro back in 2016.

"I was running for state Senate in downtown Minneapolis and I door knocked every high rise in the city, and his was one of the doors I knocked on, he didn't answer. As a lot of people did they reached out to me after, and he was one of the people that reached out," Carnahan said.

Lazzaro and 19-year-old Gisela Medina are charged with trafficking children for sex. Lazzaro raised thousands of dollars for several Minnesota Republicans. Medina was a leader for the College Republicans at the University of St. Thomas.

Jennifer Carnahan
Jennifer Carnahan (credit: CBS)

"I think to imply guilt by association is just wrong," Carnahan said. "I didn't have any direct knowledge on the alleged criminal activities. I found out when you guys found out. I was shocked and disgusted. I think Mr. Lazzaro is going to spend the rest of his life in prison."

Several lawmakers are calling for Carnahan to resign, including House Republican Assistant Minority Leader Jim Nash, who took to Twitter late Tuesday night to say he's "horrified and embarrassed" by the accusations against her. But Carnahan says she's asked the committee that elected her to vote on whether they still want her as their leader.

"I'm expecting for that board to absolutely take a vote on whether or not I should resign, and we'll see how it goes," Carnahan said.

She also confirmed to host Jordana Green that she is in an audio recording where she discussed the cancer battle of her husband, U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn. In the recording, Carnahan is heard saying, "Jim's gonna be dead in two years. So be it."

She told Green that the comment was made "in grief," and she has apologized to Hagedorn about it.

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