MN GOP Chair Refuses to Denounce Sexual Assault in the Capitol

Wyatt Beito

“We find the allegations of sexual harassment at the Minnesota Capitol extremely troubling, especially when the allegations are directed at officials elected by our party. The actions by Representative Tony Cornish are unacceptable and inexcusable. 

We hold ourselves to a standard of basic human decency whereby all people can feel respected and valued. This incident of documented sexual harassment highlights the fact that anyone can be a target of harassment, including elected officials. As an organization, we would be remiss in turning a blind eye to the situation. 

We commend the courage of Representative Erin Maye Quade and other victims of harassment in the Capitol. We hope that this brave act of speaking out will lead to positive changes within the Capitol and the nation as a whole. No one should be subjected to such harassment.

While the accusations of harassment appear on both sides of the political spectrum, we urge Minnesotans to stand together in condemning wrongdoing no matter the political ramifications. As Minnesotans, we can do better. We must be better.”

As the trend of women coming out against men in positions of power sweeps the nation, the Minnesota State capitol was no exception. The above quote was the statement made by Madison Faupel, State Chair of the Minnesota College Republicans, in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against state Representative Tony Cornish. After this statement was released in early November, even more, allegations were made on Minnesota politicians. State Senator Dan Schoen and United States Senator Al Franken have both also been accused of sexual harassment of women they worked with.

Franken had a photo taken where he was apparently groping one of his coworkers, Cornish sent a series of disturbing texts to Maye Quade, and Schoen is accused of various physical altercations. While the accused should not have their due process rights ignored, many have called for the resignation of these three men. For Schoen and Cornish, it has been left up to the Minnesota State legislature to decide the fate of their positions, as they have refused to resign of their own accord. 

Perhaps one of the most surprising developments of this affair, however, is that it seems like everyone in the state has denounced these men and their actions. Except for probably one of the most important parties involved. The Republican party of Minnesota, lead by Jennifer Carnahan the newly elected chair of the state party, has remained silent for nearly two weeks. Even Madison Faupel, a Minnesota College Republican from the University of Minnesota has taken up her duty as the state chair for College Republicans and denounced these state figures. Even the Democratic Farmer Labor party of Minnesota has issued a statement against sexual harassment and their support of the women who endured it. 

For some reason, the least favorable party in the state swimming in debt and unable to keep its party together has decided to shirk one of its only opportunities to take charge and improve their public image. Instead of leading the public in outrage against sexual assault in the state capitol, Jennifer Carnahan, the chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota has stayed utterly silent. What does it indicate when one of the more influential figures in Minnesota politics either does not feel the need or is afraid to speak out against members of both parties accused of sexual harassment? When a Republican college girl on one of the most liberal campuses in the nation can state that the state chair is not willing or able to, it spells weak leadership. 

Carnahan did make one tweet about Schoen, though, “Why did @epmurphymn wait so long to report and handle this? Now she calls @danschoenmn a deplorable. *sigh* … harassment is NEVER okay, and not acting on it is even worse.” but still has not denounced Cornish.

The entire state has its eyes upon the capitol in scrutiny, looking for others who might have misconducted themselves, and the Republican Party has completely thrown to the flames an opportunity to improve their image. For leadership to put party before decent humanity is a travesty. The fact that Jennifer Carnahan will not issue a statement condemning the democratic senators as well as Cornish from her party is pathetic. Hypocrites in power will never earn the respect of their constituents.