Jennifer Carnahan facing lawsuits from late husband's family
(FOX 9) - Electoral politics are heating up just days before a crucial primary election in southern Minnesota. Voters are looking to fill the Congressional House seat left vacant by the death of U.S. Representative Jim Hagedorn.
His widow and former state GOP Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan is running to win his vacant seat. Now, she is facing a lawsuit from Hagedorn's family.
They have filed a pair of lawsuits claiming Carnahan hasn’t come through on a promise to pay back medical expenses related to Hagedorn’s late-stage cancer treatments.
Furthermore, Hagedorn’s own sister has given a $1,000 campaign contribution to one of Carnahan’s top opponents in Tuesday's GOP primary, Jeremy Munson.
"Here, it takes away that sympathy factor," opines Hamline University political science professor David Schultz. "So if she's been trying to claim that, listen, I am the heir, I am the heir to Jim Hagedorn's legacy, this makes it a lot harder to run on those coattails."
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For her part, Carnahan called the lawsuits a political stunt, explaining that her late husband’s estate should be a private matter handled through the probate process with the courts determining asset distribution.
Her campaign added Hagedorn's intention was to leave his approximate $80,000 retirement account to his family for gifting him the treatments, more than enough to eventually cover the expenses claimed in the lawsuits.
FOX 9 asked Schultz about the optics of the suits when Carnahan herself has loaned or gifted her campaign tens of thousands of dollars in the last couple of months.
"It makes her look like she's a greedy widow, that perhaps maybe she only married Hagedorn because of his political position or something like that," said Schultz. "It raises enough questions in people's minds, and I think that's exactly what the lawsuit is supposed to do."
In addition to Carnahan and Munson, more than half-a-dozen GOP candidates are on the ballot for Tuesday’s primary with the special election set for August 9.