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GOP official embroiled in dispute with Rep. Franson resigns

by Mike McFeely

The Republican Party official who is being sued by state Rep. Mary Franson has resigned.

McLeod County GOP chairman Eric Harpel submitted a resignation letter Friday to the McLeod County executive committee. The resignation is effective immediately.

Eric Harpel

"The last situation I ever envisioned was one involving a protracted legal battle with a sitting state representative during a vital election year," Harpel wrote. "This matter could have been resolved many months ago, allowing Rep. Franson to devote her time uninterrupted to her constituents. By resigning my position the public scrutiny will be less of a distraction to the members of the McLeod County Republican Party."

Harpel and Franson have been involved in legal wrangling for two years. Franson took out a restraining order against Harpel in May 2012 after the couple broke up. Franson claimed Harpel stalked her, threatened her and made lewd comments. Harpel denied the claims and Franson later dismissed the order, saying the issue could be handled outside the courtroom.

Harpel sued Franson for defamation last month. He also sued her for hacking his e-mail account and destroying e-mails, and for failure to pay back money he said he loaned her.

To read my original story on that lawsuit, click here.

Harpel was McLeod County GOP chairman for about five years.