Former MN GOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan received unemployment benefits after being ousted

By: - May 20, 2022 12:09 pm

Former Minnesota Republican Party chair Jennifer Carnahan looks on during the national anthem during a rally for President Donald Trump at the Bemidji Regional Airport on September 18, 2020 in Bemidji, Minnesota. Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Former MN GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan, who was ousted from her leadership role last August amid allegations of leading a toxic organization rife with sexual harassment and bullying, has received more than $8,000 in unemployment insurance, according to a campaign finance disclosure she filed.

Carnahan also reported receiving $125,006 from the Minnesota Republican Party last year. She received a $38,000 severance package that she voted to give herself in exchange for her resignation. The unemployment benefits were first reported by conservative activist Jeff Kolb.

To be eligible for unemployment benefits, a person must be unemployed through no fault of their own, such as being laid off.

A spokesperson for Carnahan, Brandon Wear, explained that she was unemployed for two months after she resigned as chairwoman to care for her late husband, U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, who died in February from cancer. Carnahan also reported $195,750 in income in 2021 and 2022 from Hagedorn’s congressional salary.

Carnahan is now running for her late husband’s seat, a race that has been mired in drama and familial infighting.

Hagedorn’s mother, stepfather and sister have filed two lawsuits against Carnahan seeking repayment after they covered Hagedorn’s cancer treatments, saying they received assurances from Carnahan that she would repay them once she received Hagedorn’s death benefits and life insurance payout. The money — totaling more than $20,000 — is not listed on Carnahan’s congressional campaign finance disclosure.

Hagedorn’s family claim in their lawsuits Carnahan received $174,000 as a death benefit and an additional $174,000 in life insurance, although those payments are also not listed on Carnahan’s campaign finance disclosure. Carnahan says that income is tied up in probate.

Meanwhile, Carnahan loaned her own campaign at least $225,000.

Hagedorn’s sister Heidi Hagedorn Katz gave $1,000 to the campaign of Carnahan’s opponent, Jeremy Munson.

Carnahan has called on Munson to get out of the race following revelations that he’s connected to a political consultant who’s been charged with rape.

Brad Finstad, another Republican running in the First District, has been endorsed by U.S. Reps. Pete Stauber and Michele Fischbach.

The GOP special election primary is Tuesday, May 24. Voters in the district will choose a replacement for Hagedorn when Minnesotans vote in the statewide primary August 9.

First District Democrats endorsed former Hormel Foods Corp. CEO Jeff Ettinger at their recent convention.

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Max Nesterak
Max Nesterak

Max Nesterak is the deputy editor of the Reformer and reports on labor and housing. Most recently he was an associate producer for Minnesota Public Radio after a stint at NPR. He also co-founded the Behavioral Scientist and was a Fulbright Scholar to Berlin, Germany.