See more of the story

The Republican Party of Minnesota has called in the lawyers to remove a local party official who refuses to step down from his post.

Edwin Hahn, a Moorhead resident who was elected as chair of the Clay County GOP in 2021, was removed last year by the executive committee of the county party. But he refused to step down, instead convening an alternate group that declared him the chair.

For the past year, Hahn has continued to unlawfully represent himself as the official county chair, according to state party leaders. He has sent out statements and news releases on party letterhead, they say, and convened meetings with his alternative executive committee.

Now the state GOP has filed a lawsuit in Clay County District Court charging Hahn with fraudulent misrepresentation and seeking to put an end to his reign.

"Hahn has acted in a dangerous, erratic and illegal manner, including threatening party leaders, interfering with legal contracts and refusing to return party property," Minnesota GOP Chair David Hann said in a statement. "While it is unfortunate that his behavior has led us to initiate legal action, we hope Edwin Hahn will cease his unlawful behavior and be held accountable."

Hahn did not respond to requests for comment.

According to court documents, state and county party leaders were alarmed by Hahn's actions and statements after he took office as Clay County chair.

Hahn "made a scene" while being removed from a state Supreme Court redistricting panel, according to a legal filing. He violated the party's platform by calling for the Clay County GOP to separate from the state party and tried to "enforce nonpolitical beliefs" on county party members.

The state party alleges that Hahn tried to get other county leaders to sign a pledge agreeing with "overtly religious sentiments." Hahn's proposed pledge stated that the GOP is engaged in spiritual warfare on behalf of Jesus Christ, the Fargo Forum reported. He also recruited a Christian speaker for a caucus meeting who repeated the call for political action on behalf of Jesus, a court filing says.

The state GOP also alleges that Hahn made inflammatory statements on social media, and bullied and intimidated party members, delegates and officials.

In a court filing, Hahn declared that he is still the rightful head of the Clay County GOP.

"I have continued to lead the Clay County Republicans despite the relentless and slanderous attacks by [party officials], both publicly and privately," Hahn wrote. "The people behind this charade were motivated by their need to reclaim power lost when the people at the Clay County ... meeting elected me, Edwin Hahn, to become Chair ... instead of their choice, the previous Chair."

The dispute has split the area party. Last year, Hahn led a county convention attended by several dozen supporters. Meanwhile, the officially recognized county organization canceled its own scheduled convention because of concerns over Hahn's behavior, according to a statement sent to statewide party political directors and reported by political analyst Michael Brodkorb.

In a court filing, the state GOP also charged Hahn with unauthorized possession of party property, saying he has kept and used such items as pins, flyers, promotional materials and flags. He also has retained party information such as documents, delegate lists and contact information, the state party claims.

In addition, Hahn has interfered in the party's contractual arrangements, the lawsuit charges. It claims Hahn represented himself as the party chair to book a venue for a party event, interfering with a previously scheduled event by the state-recognized Clay County organization.

In a legal filing, Hahn denied these and other allegations in the lawsuit. No trial date has yet been set in the case.