McLeod Republican leaders resign over Eric Harpel "stalker" allegations

Two leaders in the McLeod County Republican Party have resigned in response to Rep. Mary Franson's "stalker" allegations against chairman Eric Harpel.

The McLeod County GOP held a meeting this past Thursday where vice chair Marie Thurn and secretary Linda Senst quit their leadership positions. Both questioned Harpel's integrity, according to a local media report.

"We have lost something very, very vital," Thurn told the Hutchinson Leader in a story not available online. "We have lost who we are... It's been very disheartening on my part. This isn't what I got into politics for."

Senst's letter of resignation "cited issues of integrity," according to the paper, which quoted Senst saying she disagreed "with how leadership issues have been handled."

Their reaction to Franson's allegations contrasts sharply with former McLeod County GOP chairman Craig Hoel's, who brushed off Franson's side of the story.

Neither Thurn nor Senst could be reached for comment over the weekend.

Republican state representative Mary Franson filed for a restraining order against Harpel, her ex-boyfriend, last month. 

Harpel recently visited Franson's Saint Paul apartment and demanded a pair of panties before he would return her belongings, Franson alleged. (Harpel denies the claim.)

Harpel says he was "unaware" before Thursday's meeting that a chunk of his leadership team would be resigning.

"Not once prior to be[ing] elected as Chairman or during or after did either one of the[m] look me in the eyes and question my leadership," Harpel wrote in an email. He assumes they quit over Franson's allegations.

"Since neither one of them questioned my leadership in person one can only assume that they're not happy with the alleged allegations made against me in which I will be whole heartily contesting and defending myself," Harpel said. "If this was there issue [sic] I sure wish they would have come talk to me to actually acquire the whole story and the truth."

We'll let you know if either Thurn or Senst return our phonecalls.

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