MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The past four executive directors of the Minnesota Republican Party say embattled chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan should resign or be removed from her post, calling the GOP "morally bankrupt" under her leadership.
In a long statement, the four called for her immediate resignation or that the state executive board vote her out, claiming she created a hostile work environment and ruled by "grudges, retaliation and intimidation," listing examples of her behavior.
They join chorus of other critics — including Republican state lawmakers, current party officers and the leading GOP candidate for governor — asking for her removal.
"We cannot continue to allow Carnahan to denigrate this organization and tarnish the Republican brand – it is not the Carnahan brand – while continuing to drive well-intentioned, talented and active Republicans to the curb," wrote Kevin Poindexter, Becky Alery, Christine Snell and Andy Apilkowski, each of whom served as executive director of the party for a period of time beginning in 2018.
The growing controversy surrounding Carnahan's leadership began with questions about her close friendship with Anton Lazzaro, a top Republican donor, following his arrest on federal charges of sex trafficking minors.
Carnahan forcefully denies ever knowing anything about the accusations against Lazzaro and has denounced the effort to oust her a "coordinated coup." She asked for a vote of confidence or no confidence in her ability to lead during a state executive board meeting scheduled for Thursday night. So far she has refused to step down.
"I'm not going to stand for my name, professional and personal, being defamed in this way," Carnahan told WCCO Radio Wednesday. "It just simply is wrong."
Young women have come forward on social media in recent days alleging complaints of sexual harassment by staff within the party that have been ignored. The four former executive directors said they were unaware of these claims, but said they could attest to a "toxic" work environment under Carnahan as chair.
"As the four most recent MN GOP executive directors under Carnahan, we have a unique perspective into the toxic work environment, inappropriate behavior and manipulation that she has facilitated," the statement reads. "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."
House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt and 10 other House Republicans sent a letter to the State Executive Committee Wednesday, imploring members to "take action immediately to investigate" sexual harassment claims against party members. The letter also states that any party leader "should resign or be held accountable" by the committee if it's found they didn't "meet the legal or moral responsibilities to the victims who are coming forward."
The four former party officials said they were previously barred from speaking publicly because of non-disclosure agreements— reportedly pervasive under Carnahan's reign as chair — that the state executive board recently voted to void.
Out of fear that the binding contracts might be reinstated Thursday, they wrote the statement to "make our voices heard before we are silenced again."
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