Ex-Minnesota GOP Chair Carnahan sues party, alleges violations of separation pact

A former Minnesota Republican Party chairperson is suing the party, alleging violations of their separation agreement.

Jennifer Carnahan filed the lawsuit Thursday in Hennepin County court. She led the party from 2017 until her resignation in August 2021.

As part of her move to resign, Carnahan received a severance package, which included a payout of a little over $38,000. However, Carnahan’s lawsuit says the agreement also called for all Minnesota GOP employees, officers, and board members to avoid saying anything disparaging or defaming about her, which she claims hasn’t been followed.

RELATED: Minnesota GOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan resigns, will get severance package

In her lawsuit, Carnahan says the party’s secretary, David Pascoe, gave an interview days after her resignation, implying it was “unconscionable” that she received a severance package and suggesting that she created a toxic work environment that included sexual harassment.

She also claims that Barb Sutter, the party’s national committeewoman, made similar assertions, told a member of the public that the party needs to hold Carnahan accountable for her bad acts, and said in a group text with other Republican National Committee members that Carnahan’s continued presence in state politics was bad for the party.

Additionally, the lawsuit calls out the party’s deputy chair, Donna Bergstrom, for suggesting Carnahan left the party in shambles and said Carnahan’s replacement, David Hann, claimed Carnahan left the party in financial disarray.

Her lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $50,000.

Matthew Schaap, Carnahan’s attorney, provided the following statement to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS:

“This isn’t a lawsuit about politics, it’s a lawsuit about a breach of contract by Ms. Carnahan’s former employer. Ms. Carnahan has been trying to move forward with her life and simply wants the contract to be followed and disparagement to cease. We have no interest in litigating this case in the press. My client lost her husband, Congressman Jim Hagedorn, less than a year ago and would appreciate if people would respect that she is still navigating through the grief process.”

Earlier this year, Carnahan ran in the special election to replace her late husband — Rep. Jim Hagedorn — in the state’s First Congressional District. However, she only garnered 8% of the vote in the special primary.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has reached out to the Minnesota Republican Party for comment on the lawsuit and is awaiting a response.