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Stauber donates earnings from indicted GOP operator to victims of assault

After news broke this week, the congressman's campaign office condemned Anton Lazzaro's alleged actions: "Pete is disgusted with this news."

File: Pete Stauber
U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber talks in Duluth in July 2021. Samantha Erkkila / File / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH -- After one of the state's high-profile Republican donors and operators was arrested earlier this week, U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber's campaign office said its candidate gave the equivalent in donations to a charity in the 8th Congressional District.

Anton "Tony" Lazzaro, 30, was indicted this week by a federal grand jury in Minnesota on child sex trafficking charges.

Stauber received a total of $8,000 from Lazzaro across two elections and four payments in 2018 and 2020, according to receipts filed with the Federal Election Commission.

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Political operative Anton J. Lazzaro is being held in the Sherburne County Jail on child sex trafficking charges. Courtesy / Sherburne County Jail via MPR

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"Immediately after the indictment news yesterday, Pete donated the entire contribution to 'Support Within Reach,'" his campaign said Friday, Aug. 13. "As a 23-year police officer and father, Pete is disgusted with this news and continues to fight every day to eradicate such acts."

Support Within Reach describes itself as a private, nonprofit, community service organization serving residents and those impacted by incidents of sexual violence in Aitkin, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Hubbard and Itasca counties.

Earlier Friday, Minnesota Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan issued a statement pledging the state party will contribute to charity the equivalent of its several thousands of dollars in Lazzaro contributions.

"If the allegations against Mr. Anton Lazzaro are true, this is an abhorrent act that we condemn in the highest possible terms," she said in a news release. "Sex trafficking is a heinous act that preys on victims of all ages, races and backgrounds, and warrants severe punishment by our judicial system. A full investigation is necessary to ensure due process is provided to all parties involved."

A Twin Cities news station later Friday described Carnahan's job status as uncertain because of what it said was her close friendship with Lazzaro.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges Lazzaro conspired with others to recruit and solicit six people under age 18 to engage in commercial sex between May and December 2020, according to a story in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Sometimes a contributor on conservative television, Lazzaro is charged with five counts of sex trafficking of minors; one count of attempted sex trafficking of a minor; one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors; and three counts of obstruction.

Lazzaro is being held in the Sherburne County Jail. Lazzaro’s attorney Zachary Newland said Lazzaro is being falsely accused and did not commit the crimes he’s charged with, the Pioneer Press reported.

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