The chairman of the Arizona Republican Party resigned Wednesday after the release of secret tapes purporting to show that GOP Senate hopeful Kari Lake was pressured by the state’s Republican leader to stay out of politics.
The leaked audio was released Tuesday by the Daily Mail. In the recording, Arizona GOP chairman Jeff DeWit appears to relay a conversation he had about securing a job or money for Lake so she wouldn’t run for office. The recording was allegedly made last year, during which time Lake was weighing a bid for U.S. Senate.
“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?’” according to the recording obtained by the Daily Mail.
DeWit said the conversation was “selectively edited” from a private talk he had with Lake 10 months ago. He denies that he ever asked the former newscaster, who lost the 2022 governor’s race in Arizona, not to run for office again.
Lake is currently seeking the GOP Senate nod in Arizona. She’s also been rumored to be on former President Donald Trump’s short list of 2024 vice presidential picks.
Arizona Senate candidate Kari Lake was allegedly pressed to stay out of politics after losing her gubernatorial bid.
“In light of the recent revelation that Kari Lake has released a selectively edited audio recording of our private conversation, I must clearly address this deceptive tactic,” DeWit wrote in a statement released by the Arizona Republican Party. “The recording, from over ten months ago, is not only taken out of context but also undermines the integrity of private discussions critical for party leadership.”
DeWit claims that at that time, Lake was employed at a company that he runs. He didn’t specify which company, and the Arizona GOP did not immediately respond to a request for comment from HuffPost.
“Contrary to the notion of me being an enemy of Lake’s, this conversation was recorded while I was actually employing Lake in my private company,” he wrote. DeWit said he was resigning because Lake threatened him with the release of more tapes of their private conservations.
“I question how effective a United States Senator can be when they cannot be trusted to engage in private and confidential conversations,” he wrote.
“I said things I regret, but I realize when hearing Lake’s recording that I was set up. I believe she orchestrated this entire situation to have control over the state party, and it is obvious from the recording that she crafted her performance responses with the knowledge that she was recording it, intending to use this recording later to portray herself as a hero in her own story.”
This is the latest drama to engulf the Arizona GOP. DeWit, the former Arizona state treasurer, took over the party a year ago following several years of infighting over its direction under Trump’s presidency.
“The tape speaks for itself: The Arizona GOP Chairman Jeff DeWit attempted to bribe Kari Lake,” Lake’s campaign said in a statement to HuffPost. “No one from the Kari Lake campaign threatened or blackmailed DeWit.”
At one point Lake says on the recording: “I’m not going to let these people back in D.C. tell me not to run. I’m not going to pause for two years. The battle is now.”