Minnesota GOP Chair responds after GOP strategist arrested for sex trafficking operation

Republican Party of Minnesota Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan released a statement Saturday after a close friend and donor was indicted and arrested on underage sex trafficking charges.

Anton "Tony" Lazzaro, 30, faces five counts of sex trafficking of a minor, a count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors, and another count of attempted sex trafficking, along with three counts of obstruction, according to an unsealed indictment.

A 19-year-old Minnesota woman was also arrested on the same charges and is reportedly linked to Lazzaro.

Republican Party of Minnesota Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan released the following statement Saturday:

"The arrest and charges involving Ms. Gisela Castro Medina, in conjunction with Thursday's arrest and sex trafficking charges of Mr. Anton Lazzaro are heinous and disturbing. Conviction of these charges warrants punishment to the fullest extent of the law and we fully anticipate justice will be served.

"While we work for the same cause, the Republican Party of Minnesota has no jurisdiction over the Minnesota College Republicans, including the chapter at the University of St. Thomas. Minnesota CR chapters are independently run organizations.

"We stand with victims of sex trafficking and encourage anyone with information to contact the FBI Minneapolis Division at 763-569-8000." 

Saturday afternoon, Rep. Jeremy Munson released a statement on behalf of the four-member New House GOP caucus calling for Carnahan's resignation over the Lazzaro arrest. The statement also calls into question non-disclosure agreements between members of the party board and the Minnesota GOP. 

"The conflicts of interest and the numerous deeply concerning questions being brought to light need to be answered and resolved now. Investigations and audits do not mean the accusations are true," the statement said. "Investigating, disclosing, and addressing accusations is a duty of the board and our leadership and how we restore trust."

The caucus is calling for the NDAs to be nullified. In another statement, GOP executive committee member Bobby Benson worried that the NDAs may be preventing some people from speaking up about the Lazzaro arrest.

"I've been troubled by the recent reports of the frequency at which MNGOP issues and uses NDAs with past and present employees," wrote Benson.

Republican Scott Jensen, who is running for governor, and State Senator Julia Coleman are also calling for Carnahan to resign.