Who is Anton Lazzaro? GOP strategist arrested for underage sex trafficking in Minneapolis
Six victims ask for additional protection, judge orders him to stay behind bars till hearing over allegations from 2020 investigation
A Minneapolis-based Republican strategist, Anton Lazzaro, was arrested on August 12 on charges of underage sex trafficking. Lazarro will not be allowed out on bail and will remain in jail till his hearing next week, the judge has ordered. The arrest stems from allegations by six women, who Lazarro allegedly recruited between May and December 2020. He has also been charged with obstruction of justice, with the FBI claiming he "knowingly and intentionally interfered" with the investigation.
The damning allegations against Lazzaro come as there is a strong resurgence in the #MeToo movement, thanks to disgraced New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. On August 10, Cuomo announced his eagerly-awaited resignation after days of pressure from leading Democrats including President Joe Biden. The same day Lazzaro was charged, former SNL star Horatio Sanz was also accused of sexual abuse and grooming, in a lawsuit in Manhattan.
Some lesser-known individuals are also being thrown into the spotlight, such as Denver school board member Tay Anderson. In June, Anderson was accused of abusing around 60 students and even raping some of them. Lazzaro faces equally serious allegations, with six women asking for additional protection from him. He's a well-known GOP strategist and has even been clicked with former President Donald Trump. Here's everything else you need to know about Lazzaro.
Who is Anton Lazzaro?
The 30-year-old, who also goes by the name Tony, is a well-known playboy. In fact, failed GOP House candidate Lacy Johnson said "He’s young, he’s got money, and… that tends to attract females." A quick glimpse of his Instagram profile seems to indicate that's the case. Lazzaro frequently flaunts his wealth on social media with photos of his Lamborghini, a jet, and even wads of cash. If you are wondering how he got so rich, it is probably from his business. Apart from being a strategist for the GOP, he is also the founder and CEO of Gold River Group, a marketing company. "We specialize in the Securities, Family Office, Energy, and Political industries," the company's website says.
The Daily Beast reported he is also an investor in cryptocurrencies like BitCoin. Those investments have led him to funnel more than $22,000 to political committees in California, Minnesota, Michigan, and New Mexico, with over half coming from him personally. Born in Los Angeles, Lazzaro studied at Brigham Young University in Idaho, before moving to Minneapolis. Interestingly, Gold River is registered in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and has a postal address in Rolling Hills Estates, California. Lazarro's personal website says "he has owned his own very successful firm Gold River Group for nine years."
Business aside, Lazzaro is the founder and director of Big Tent Republicans PAC, a Minneapolis-based PAC "dedicated to broadening the appeal of the Republican Party." Through the PAC, Lazarro has met with some of the GOP's biggest names, and he proudly shows off photos with Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and Mitt Romney to name a few. He's also a frequent guest on Fox News, News Max, and RT America. In 2020, he served as Lacy Johnson's campaign manager when she attempted to challenge rep Ilhan Omar. State election records also show that he was on the shortlist of Minnesota’s presidential electors for the Republican Party, as an "alternate", i.e. a substitute for any missing delegates.
Allegations of sex trafficking
The arrest of Lazzaro comes months after the FBI first began investigating him. The FBI raided his luxury condo in mid-December in 2020 and sought Lazzaro’s bank records and video surveillance footage of the building a week before the raid. At the time, neither the US Attorney’s Office nor the FBI offered a comment on the investigation. When The Beast contacted Lazzaro, he said, "someone made a false accusation against me. There's no charges, no case, nothing political." Previously in July, he told The Beast, "There's nothing to this case. It's not some Matt Gaetz or whatever you think this is."
However, the arrest has made it clear there's a lot more to the case than he let on. The indictment against Lazarro says he "recruited" at least five underage victims for paid sex between May and December last year, and trying to entice a sixth. A co-conspirator has been mentioned in the indictment but is yet to be arrested or identified. It is possible there may be more victims. As of now, Lazzaro has been charged with five counts of sex trafficking of a minor, one count of attempting to do so, and three counts of obstruction of justice.
Earlier on August 12, Lazzaro appeared in federal court in St Paul, Minnesota, via video conference. It is unclear where he is being held, but will next appear in court on August 16. It's also unclear if Lazzaro has pleaded innocent or guilty. Republican state sen Karin Housley said, "These allegations are disturbing and troubling, and they make my heart ache for the victims of such a horrifying crime. I will be sending a check to the group Women’s Foundation of Minnesota for their ‘Our Girls Are Not For Sale’ program in the same amount my campaign for US Senate received from Lazzaro so they may have resources to support other victims of trafficking." It's unclear how much he received from Lazzaro, but the strategist reportedly donated around $150,000 in all to state Republicans.