More Minnesota GOP members call for Carnahan to step aside

(ABC 6 News) – More and more state republicans are calling on Jennifer Carnahan, the chairwoman of Minnesota’s Republican party, to resign after a donor she had close ties with was charged with child sex trafficking.

The man charged with child sex trafficking is Anton Lazzaro. Lazzaro has worked for several Minnesota political candidates and he is well known for being a republican campaign strategist and political donor. He has now been indicted by a federal grand jury.

Lazzaro has donated nearly $190,000 to state GOP candidates and organizations.

Carnahan said the organization is donating the contributions made by Lazzaro to charity. Her husband, Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-MN), also said he is donating the contributions he received from Lazzaro to charities in southern Minnesota.

Members of the Minnesota GOP claim Carnahan and Lazzaro had a close relationship and even hosted a podcast together. With Lazzaro’s arrest, state republicans want Carnahan to step aside.

"We’ve been struggling as a party for a while with ethical leadership at the top, and we really need to restore integrity as a top priority to be successful in the next election," Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) said.

Drazkowski said he signed a letter with several other legislators calling for her resignation.

In a Facebook post, Carnahan wrote "Leaders in our party are now using guilt by association to demand my resignation." She said the party and its leaders cannot be responsible for the actions of donors.

Among those calling for her resignation is Sen. Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake).

"The executive board needs the opportunity to hire an outside auditor to review the finances, free the staff from NDAs and review HR policies to ensure staff and volunteers are protected. The chair has resisted such actions and heeds to step down for the good of the GOP," Benson said.

The Minnesota GOP Executive Board voted Sunday night to conduct a financial audit of the party and end the party’s practice of non-disclosure agreements. There is another executive board meeting Thursday.