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Clay County GOP ousts chair in what he calls attempted 'coup d’etat'

In a recent Facebook post, Clay County Republicans announced Edwin Hahn is no longer chair of their organization.

Edwin Hahn
Edwin Hahn.
Submitted photo

MOORHEAD — The man who's still calling himself chairman of the Clay County Republican Party is firing back against an “anonymous letter” that led to party officials removing him from his post this week.

Edwin Hahn of Moorhead made what he described as “an urgent call” to Republicans of Clay County, posting the message to his Facebook page and emailing it to local media at 11:55 p.m. Wednesday, March 9.

Referring to himself in the third person, he wrote in the email that “rogue Directors had attempted a coup d’etat against the duly elected Chairman” at a Tuesday meeting and that he'd lost access to the party’s bank account. A coup d’etat is a sometimes illegal removal of a government and its powers.

Hahn did not respond to The Forum's request for further comment in time for publication of this story.

The Clay County Republican Party, in a statement sent to The Forum on Thursday, said Hahn was removed due to “numerous ethical violations” as well as “conduct unbecoming” of a person in that position. Asked to describe the alleged violations and conduct, party officials did not respond.

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Here is the local party's statement in its entirety:

"At a meeting held at 7 PM on Tuesday the 8th of March 2022 Edwin Hahn was removed as chairman of the Clay County Republicans due to numerous ethical violations as well as conduct unbecoming for a Republican Party County Chair.

"Mr. Hahn was notified of the removal meeting by a formal notice hand delivered on February 26th. This is the 'anonymous letter' that Mr. Hahn refers to.

"He had been asked numerous times to discuss the concerns noted by the board, and again was invited to the meeting that night. Because he refused to attend, the meeting was conducted and the executive committee voted for his removal. The removal has been recognized by the MNGOP.

"Since that time Edwin Hahn has used party resources to advance his own personal goals, spread lies about the Republican party, and attack executive committee members. Edwin Hahn holds no official position within the Republicans of Clay County Minnesota, and in no way represents the party.

"We, the members of the executive committee, followed the course of action we deemed necessary to resolve the situation.

"It is unfortunate he has chosen to take this issue public by attacking members of the executive committee at large."

That statement was sent to The Forum by Katie Koppelman, executive board treasurer of the Clay County Republican Party.

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However, moments later Koppelman asked that the party's statement be rescinded and replaced with this statement: “We are unable to provide a statement at this time." It's unclear why the party rescinded their first statement.

The Forum was not able to independently confirm that Hahn's removal was recognized by the Minnesota GOP. Attempts to reach a state party representative by email and phone were not successful Thursday.

The local party’s Facebook page referenced the shakeup in a Tuesday post.

“Edwin Hahn is no longer Chair of the MN Republicans of Clay County,” the post said.

Around the same time, in a separate post, the local party acknowledged a change in leadership.

“Congratulations to Rod Johnson, who was elected as Chair of the MN Republicans of Clay County at tonight's executive board meeting!” the post said.

In Hahn's email to news outlets, he claimed board members retreated to a “hidden location” in the Moorhead Public Library that night and held a “secret vote” to remove him from office.

He claimed the vote was conducted without a quorum, therefore rendering it “null and void,” according to his email.

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In turn, he said he served letters to the executive board members calling for their removal, to be determined at a March 18 meeting.

In his email, Hahn compared the executive board’s action to “other acts of election malfeasance which this country as a whole has witnessed on a grand scale in the most recent major elections.”

It’s not the first time Hahn has made such claims.

In December 2020, Hahn filed a lawsuit contesting his loss in the Minnesota House District 4A race a month prior.

The suit claimed there were irregularities in the November 2020 election and in the canvassing of absentee ballots.

Clay County Attorney Brian Melton described the suit as frivolous.

Not long after, a judge dismissed with prejudice the lawsuit, stating that negating pre-election rule suspensions made due to the COVID-19 pandemic would disenfranchise voters of Clay County.

In August 2021, Hahn appeared at a Moorhead School Board meeting, holding a sign stating "parent choice" in a discussion about a mask mandate during the pandemic.

Parents cheer with joy, shout in anger as Moorhead Area Public Schools approves new mask mandate
Clay County Republican chairman Edwin Hahn holds up a sign ahead of the board's vote at a Moorhead school board meeting Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. (WDAY)

As of Thursday evening, photos that include Hahn still appeared on the Clay County Republicans website and he was listed as an endorsed candidate .

His Facebook page indicates he’s running for the Minnesota Senate District 4 seat currently held by DFLer Kent Eken.

In 2019, Hahn campaigned unsuccessfully for a Ward 3 seat on the Moorhead City Council. He also was an unsuccessful candidate in the GOP primary for a Minnesota District 1 Senate seat in 2016.

In 2012, when Hahn lived in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, he was appointed to serve as a member of the city council there.

Huebner is a 35+ year veteran of broadcast and print journalism in Fargo-Moorhead.
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