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Will there be fallout from the Carnahan resignation?

It took a week for Carnahan to resign.

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Minnesota Republican Party chair Jennifer Carnahan speaks to a gathering organized by Brown County Republicans in the New Ulm Event Center on Sept. 10, 2020. Carnahan faces growing calls to resign, after a top party donor was indicted on sex trafficking charges. Glen Stubbe / Minneapolis Star Tribune / TNS
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A leader within the Republican Party of Olmsted County predicted that the damage to the Minnesota Republican Party from the resignation of Jennifer Carnahan would be short-lived, but it would be dependent on the outcome of an investigation into the party's finances and sexual harassment claims.

"I think they'll recover very quickly," said Bill Kuisle, a leader within the party and a former state legislator. "I think there'll be some investigation on finances and stuff like that. It'll be what happens after that that will cause some concern."

Carnahan resigned Thursday night, taking a three-month, $38,150 severance package with her, after a barrage of accusations of workplace toxicity and sexual harassment claims.

In addiction to voting on Carnahan's severance, with Carnahan contributing the tie-breaking 8-7 vote, the party's executive committee voted to conduct an independent third-party investigation into sexual harassment claims and an audit of the party's finances.

Carnahan's troubles began with the arrest last week of GOP donor and activist Anton "Tony" Lazzaro, a friend of Carnahan's, on federal sex trafficking charges. Carnahan disavowed knowing anything about Lazzaro's alleged criminal activities, but questions about what she knew about his alleged private criminal life soon mushroomed into a broader indictment of her leadership.

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Several woman came forward with accusations of sexual harassment at the hands of party donors, volunteers, or employees during Carnahan's time as chair.

Kuisle said he had rumors of a toxic workplace environment that involved accusations of sexual harassment, but "not to the level that people were coming out and saying it."

"It was kind of inkling, but nothing like this," Kuisle said.

Kuisle also said that he opposed the severance package given to Carnahan to leave.

"We do it too often for superintendents and other people," Kuisle said. "Especially, when you're a Republican, you're not supposed to be doing stuff like that."

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Matthew Stolle has been a Post Bulletin reporter since 2000 and covered many of the beats that make up a newsroom. In his first several years, he covered K-12 education and higher education in Rochester before shifting to politics. He has also been a features writer. Today, Matt jumps from beat to beat, depending on what his editor and the Rochester area are producing in terms of news. Readers can reach Matthew at 507-281-7415 or mstolle@postbulletin.com.
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