Arizona GOP chair resigns, accuses Kari Lake of 'set up' as leaked audio surfaces

 January 25, 2024

The chairman of Arizona's Republican party resigned Wednesday, citing an "ultimatum" from Trump ally Kari Lake after an audio recording surfaced in which he appeared to bribe her. 

In a recorded conversation at Lake's home in March 2023, Jeff DeWit asked her to name a "number" and whether she could be convinced to stay out of politics for a couple of years. At the time, Lake was preparing to run for the Senate in Arizona.

DeWit told Lake that "powerful people" from "back east" wanted her out of the picture.

"So the ask I got today from back east was: 'Is there any companies out there or something that could just put her on the payroll to keep her out?’" she said.

Arizona GOP chair resigns

"This is about defeating Trump and I think that's a bad, bad thing for our country," Lake responded.

Lake pushed for DeWit's resignation after the recording was leaked to the Daily Mail. 

DeWit worked for Donald Trump's 2016 and 2020 campaigns as chief operations officer and was tapped by President Trump for a senior role at NASA. He became chair of the Arizona GOP last January.

In a statement Wednesday, DeWit said Lake threatened to release more audio if he did not step down, something Lake denies.

"This morning I was determined to fight for my position," he said. "However a few hours ago I received an ultimatum from Lake's team: Resign today or face the release of a new, more damaging recording."

Set up?

DeWitt claimed he was "set up" by Lake and that she staged her reactions in the "selectively edited" recording to paint herself as a "hero."

He said what sounded like a bribe was him giving advice "in good faith" to postpone her campaign "and aim for the Governor's position in two years."

But Lake said the recording "speaks for itself."

"The tape speaks for itself ... thankfully Kari is an extremely ethical person who rejected DeWit's multiple attempts to offer her money and corporate board seats in exchange for Kari not running for public office," Lake senior advisers Caroline Wren and Garrett Ventry said in a statement.

With her Trumpian attitude and charisma, Lake became a rising star during her run for governor of Arizona in 2022. The former news anchor narrowly lost the election, which was marred by irregularities at polling places.

Lake is now seeking the Senate in a potential three-way race with Democrat Ruben Gallego and incumbent Krysten Sinema, who has yet to declare whether she will seek another term.

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