Arizona Republican Party chairman Jeff DeWit resigned on Wednesday after an audio recording leaked of him allegedly offering a bribe to Kari Lake to suspend her campaign for the U.S. Senate.
DeWit faced backlash from Arizona Republicans, including from Lake herself, this week after the audio was obtained and published by the U.K.’s Daily Mail on Tuesday. The audio was recorded in March of last year and allegedly captured DeWit offering Lake to name a price that would convince her to suspend her Senate campaign and forgo politics for two years.
DeWit accused Lake of selectively leaking the audio and undermining the Republican Party in a statement announcing his resignation.
“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. 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 wrote.
DeWit alleged he was “set up” and said he could not compete with Lake’s “massive megaphone.” DeWit lamented that the affair distracts from GOP efforts in 2024.
“This is all such a distraction to that mission that I am doing as Ms. Lake wishes and am stepping down as Chairman of the Arizona Republican Party,” DeWit concluded.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Statement from Chairman @JeffDeWitAZ
— Arizona Republican Party (@AZGOP) January 24, 2024
Lake, a Republican firebrand who lost a 2020 run for Arizona governor, called on DeWit to resign on Tuesday.
“[DeWit] has got to resign. We can’t have somebody who is corrupt and compromised running the Republican Party,” Lake told an NBC reporter at former President Donald Trump’s New Hampshire primary victory party on Tuesday night.
Kari Lake calls for @AZGOP Chair Jeff DeWit to resign after release of audio in which he can be heard bribing Lake to not run for the U.S. Senate in exchange for a potential job (and its salary): https://t.co/8tF4sodXf3 pic.twitter.com/4XBSzoVyYL
— Vaughn Hillyard (@VaughnHillyard) January 24, 2024
Maricopa County Republican Committee chairman Craig Berland told the Daily Mail that DeWit should step aside if the bribery allegation against him is true.
The recording of DeWit and Lake appears to have been recorded during an in-person conversation between the two.
“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?’” DeWit says, according to the recording. “Just say, is there a number at which …”
Lake interjects: “I can be bought? That’s what it’s about.”
“You can take a pause for a couple of years. You can go right back to what you’re doing,” DeWit continues.
Lake responds: “This is not about money, it’s about our country.”
At one point in the conversation, DeWit appears to attempt to explain the reasoning behind the desire for Lake to step aside for the 2024 cycle. He says the request comes down to “the ability to raise money to win.”
Lake says: “I don’t want to make a deal with these kinds of people. This is a hill worth dying on.”
— Simon Ateba (@simonateba) January 23, 2024
DeWit took control of the Arizona Republican Party last year. Prior to winning the election to chair the state party, he served in the Trump administration as Chief Financial Officer of NASA, receiving unanimous approval by the U.S. Senate.
DeWit was also active in former President Donald Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns. In 2016, he served as the Trump campaign’s Chief Operations Officer and Chief Financial Officer. In 2020, Dewit was a part of Trump’s re-election effort again as COO.
He won election to be state treasurer of Arizona in 2014.