By Jack Phillips
The chairman of the Arizona Republican Party said he resigned from his role on Jan. 23 after a recording of him was leaked that apparently showed him offering U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake money to stay out of that race.
In his resignation statement, Jeff DeWit suggested that Ms. Lake’s team allegedly secretly recorded their conversation before leaking it to the media. He also accused her team of threatening to release more recordings, which he described as being taken out of context, although he provided few details.
“I said things I regret, but I realize when hearing Lake’s recording that I was set up,” Mr. 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.”
He said the recording and release of the audio was tantamount to a “deceptive tactic” and said it was a “selectively edited audio recording.”
“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,” he said.
Going further, Mr. DeWit said his relationship with Ms. Lake 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,” according to the statement.
“I genuinely believed I was offering a helpful perspective to someone I considered a friend,” he said.
“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.”
A spokesperson for the Lake campaign released a statement on Jan. 23 saying the “tape speaks for itself” and noted that Ms. Lake “rejected DeWit’s multiple attempts to offer her money and corporate board seats in exchange for Kari not running for public office.”
No one from her campaign “threatened or blackmailed DeWit,” the campaign said in the statement. The campaign didn’t respond to claims that he was secretly recorded or how the audio reached the media.
Representatives of Ms. Lake didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.
The Daily Mail, a British tabloid, first reported on the audio recording on Jan. 23, apparently revealing a March 2023 conversation between Mr. DeWit and Ms. Lake months before she announced that she was running for Arizona’s U.S. Senate seat. She said in the recording that she won’t take any offers.
“So, the ask I got today from back east was: ‘Is [sic] there any companies out there or something that could just put her on the payroll to keep her out?’” Mr. DeWit said, according to the recording.
According to the recording, Ms. Lake said, “This is not about money; this is about our country.
“I think it’s disturbing.
“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. I’m offended by whoever these people are that they are trying to buy me out.”
Later, Mr. DeWit said there were “very powerful people” who wanted her to drop out of the race.
“There are very powerful people who are gonna keep you out,” he said. “But they’re willing to put their money where their mouth is in a big way.”
Ms. Lake, a prominent supporter of former President Donald Trump who ran for governor of Arizona in 2022, also called for Mr. DeWit to resign after the Daily Mail released the audio.
“He’s gotta resign. We can’t have somebody who’s corrupt and compromised running the Republican Party. I want corruption rooted out of our government. I don’t care what’s on the Democrat side or the Republican side. We are going to root out corruption,” she said.
“You don’t put somebody in a position with a conversation like that. I’ve had a very terse relationship with him. I thought he should have resigned a long time ago.”
Mr. DeWit, who served as the chief financial officer for NASA during the Trump administration, was elected to head Arizona’s Republican Party about a year ago, taking over from Kelli Ward. Ms. Lake had endorsed him for the role.
It comes as Ms. Lake responded to months of speculation and rumors that she may be picked as President Trump’s running mate for the 2024 presidential election.
“We have to have a Republican-led United States Senate because when President Trump gets back in office, and I do believe he will, he’s going to need to do his cabinet appointments through it,” Ms. Lake, a former television news journalist, told GBNews several days ago.
When asked about the possibility of becoming a vice presidential running mate to President Trump, she demurred, saying that she wants “to help him in the Senate.”
“I really think that he’s going to need help in the Senate,” Ms. Lake said.
“We have a chance to bring back that Senate majority. So I’m going to do whatever I can to help my country. I have two children and I worry deeply about their future. They can’t even fathom living the American dream. So we have to get that back.”
So far, President Trump has not given any suggestions about who he might choose to become his No. 2.