PHOENIX – Kari Lake used the term “reprehensible” Wednesday morning when describing leaked audio in which Arizona Republican Party Chair Jeff DeWit allegedly offered her a bribe to stay out of the 2024 U.S. Senate race.
DeWit countered by saying the audio was “selectively edited” and accused Lake of setting him up to push him out of party leadership.
“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 said in a lengthy statement announcing his resignation early Wednesday afternoon.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Statement from Chairman @JeffDeWitAZ
— Arizona Republican Party (@AZGOP) January 24, 2024
The Daily Mail, a British news organization, released audio from the March 2023 conversation between Lake and DeWit on Tuesday. Lake rebuffed the offers and went on to enter the race for independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s seat in October.
“The audio speaks for itself. It’s reprehensible,” Lake told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Wednesday morning. “I’m calling for Jeff DeWit to resign immediately.
“Our state party needs to be functioning. We can’t have somebody who behaves in an unethical manner like that running it.”
Why did Jeff DeWit say about leaked audio?
Lake got her wish a few hours later.
However, DeWit didn’t bow out without firing back.
“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,” he said in his resignation announcement.
Does Kari Lake know who leaked audio to media?
Lake said Wednesday morning she didn’t provide the 10-minute audio to the media, but “somebody who had access to it, who I know, did.”
Lake said she’s had a strained relationship with DeWit since the conversation took place at her house while she was packing for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland.
While onstage at CPAC, Lake alleged that she’d been bribed not to run, but she didn’t name DeWit at the time.
“You don’t put somebody in a position with a conversation like that,” she said Wednesday. “That’s disrespectful, it’s unethical, and so I’ve had a very terse relationship with him. I thought he should have resigned a long time ago.”
Who are Kari Lake and Jeff DeWit?
Lake, a fervent supporter of former President Donald Trump, rose to political prominence after a long career as a Valley TV news anchor. She was the Republican nominee for governor in the 2022, when she lost to Democrat Katie Hobbs.
DeWit is a former state treasurer who served as chair of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign in Arizona. He was elected as the state GOP chair a year ago after a stint as NASA’s chief financial officer under Trump and working on Trump’s unsuccessful 2020 reelection campaign.
Lake, however, finds herself questioning DeWit’s loyalty to Trump, although she endorsed him for party chair.
“I don’t think he’s a supporter of President Trump,” she said. “I’ve heard other recordings of him saying he’s a DeSantis guy, but he liked to put that out … that he was a Trump guy, but he really wasn’t.”
In his resignation announcement, DeWit called himself “a proud supporter of President Trump.”
He also said that Lake’s allegedly deceptive methods were a threat to other Republicans, including Trump.
“The release of our conversation by Lake confirms a disturbing tendency to exploit private interactions for personal gain and increases concerns about her habit of secretly recording personal and private conversations,” DeWit said. “This is obviously a concern given how much interaction she has with high-profile people, including President Trump.
“I question how effective a United States Senator can be when they cannot be trusted to engage in private and confidential conversations.”
What did Kari Lake and Jeff DeWit say in leaked audio?
In the audio, a voice the Mail said was confirmed by two sources to be DeWit’s tells Lake that “very powerful” people wanted to keep her out of the Senate race and were “willing to put their money where their mouth is in a big way.”
DeWit says it’s Lake’s choice whether to accept the offer, suggesting she should refrain from running for office for two years, and asks her to keep the conversation private.
He then mentions unspecified parties from “back East” who inquired about the possibility of “companies out there that could just put her on the payroll to keep her out.”
“I’m not going to let these people back in D.C. tell me not to run,” Lake says at one point. “I’m not going to pause for two years. The battle is now. I’m offended by whoever these people are that they are trying to buy me out.”
DeWit later raises the idea of “a number,” to which Lake says she wouldn’t put her political ambitions on hold for a billion dollars.
Lake said Wednesday she still doesn’t know who asked DeWit to make the offer.
“You could lay awake all night thinking, ‘Who are these people?’ because the list of who it could be is so long,” she said.
An earlier version of this story was published before Jeff DeWit resigned as Arizona Republican Party Chair. It has since been updated.