Arizona GOP Chair Jeff DeWit resigns following leaked Kari Lake audio
Jan 24, 2024, 12:15 PM | Updated: 12:49 pm
(Getty Images File Photo)
PHOENIX — Arizona Republican Party Chair Jeff DeWit resigned Wednesday after audio was leaked of him apparently offering Kari Lake a financial incentive to stay out of the 2024 U.S. Senate race.
DeWit’s departure comes as The Daily Mail, a British news organization, released audio on Tuesday from the March 2023 conversation between the two. DeWit, in announcing his resignation, said the clip was a “deceptive tactic” and a “selectively edited audio recording.”
“I said things I regret, but I realize when hearing Lake’s recording that I was set up,” DeWit said in a statement.
“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.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Statement from Chairman @JeffDeWitAZ
— Arizona Republican Party (@AZGOP) January 24, 2024
Lake told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Wednesday, before DeWit stepped down, that the conversation took place at her house while she was packing for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland. DeWit said the conversation happened while he was employing Lake for his private company.
“Since our conversation where I advised Lake to postpone her campaign and aim for the governor’s position in two years, she has been on a mission to destroy me,” DeWit said. “It was a suggestion made in good faith, believing it could benefit both her future prospects and the party’s overall strategy.”
Lake didn’t accept any offers from DeWit, instead deciding to enter the race for independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s seat in October.
Lake said she’s had a strained relationship with DeWit since the conversation occurred. Lake called on DeWit to resign prior to his announcement.
“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 is Jeff DeWit?
DeWit was elected as the state GOP chair a year ago, succeeding Kelli Ward, after a stint as NASA’s chief financial officer under former president Donald Trump.
He is also a former state treasurer who served as chair of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign in Arizona.
Lake endorsed DeWit for party chair.
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.