The chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, an ally of former President Donald Trump, resigned on Wednesday after audio emerged this week of him offering money to Kari Lake to stay out of the U.S. Senate race in the state. But in his statement of resignation, the now-former chairman suggested that Lake had acted nefariously.
Chairman Jeff DeWit called the secret audio recording from Lake “deceptive” and “a selectively edited audio recording of our private conversation.” He went on to suggest that Lake had “orchestrated” the exchange in an attempt to “have control over the state party.” Lake’s campaign responded in a statement to The Daily Wire by denying having “threatened or blackmailed” DeWit.
“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 his letter, adding that at the time the recording was made, he was employing Lake at his private company.
“In fact, for over a year and a half we had many conversations where I was looking out for her financial interests,” he continued. “The ethical breach in her recording of our conversation, while Lake was my employee, raises serious legal and moral concerns. This act of recording was not just a betrayal of trust but also a violation of the fiduciary responsibilities of an employee. Contrary to accusations of bribery, my discussions were transparent and intended to offer perspective, not coercion. Our relationship was based on friendship, and the conversation that is now being scrutinized was an open, unguarded exchange between friends in the living room of her house. I genuinely believed I was offering a helpful perspective to someone I considered a friend.”
DeWit said that ever since he advised that Lake postpone her desire for elected office for another two years so she could run again for the state’s governorship, she has “been on a mission to destroy me.”
“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,” he 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.”
DeWit said that he regretted some of the things that he said in the recording, but realized when he went back and listened to the tape that it was a “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. “This morning, I was determined to fight for my position. 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.”
“I am truly unsure of its contents, but considering our numerous past open conversations as friends, I have decided not to take the risk,” he said. “I am resigning as Lake requested, in the hope that she will honor her commitment to cease her attacks, allowing me to return to the business sector–a field I find much more logical and prefer over politics.”
DeWit noted in his statement that he was a “proud supporter” of Trump and had worked as “the COO & CFO of his 2016 campaign, served in his Administration for two years, and returned as the COO of the 2020 campaign.”
In response to DeWit’s satement, the Lake campaign told The Daily Wire, “The tape speaks for itself: The Arizona GOP Chairman Jeff DeWit attempted to bribe Kari Lake. 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. She will be an incredible Senator for Arizonans. No one from the Kari Lake campaign threatened or blackmailed DeWit. It is unfortunate that Dewit hasn’t recognized how unethical his behavior was and still hasn’t apologized to Arizona Republicans. DeWit’s false claims are just par for the course. The Arizona GOP must be relieved to have his resignation. Now we can focus on getting ethical leadership and win big in 2024.”