Strange politics in Arizona: GOP head resigns after Kari Lake bribery accusation, claiming she frightened him

The Arizona GOP chairman resigned on Wednesday following the publication of an audiotape in which he promised lucrative job prospects to Kari Lake, a major Trump ally and Republican candidate for the United States Senate in Arizona, in exchange for a two-year break from politics.

“He needs to resign.” “We cannot have someone who is corrupt and compromised running the Republican Party,” Lake told NBC News on Tuesday, referring to state chair Jeff DeWit.

DeWit wrote on X that he was leaving “as Lake requested” — but also claimed that her staff had threatened to leak another incriminating audio if he did not cooperate.

Strange politics in Arizona: GOP head resigns after Kari Lake bribery accusation, claiming she frightened him

“This morning, I vowed to fight for my position. However, a few hours ago, I received an ultimatum from Lake’s team: leave or face the release of a new, more damning recording,” the letter stated. “I’m completely unsure of its contents, but given our many previous open chats as friends, I’ve opted not to take the risk. “I’m resigning as Lake requested,” he continued.

Lake advisers Caroline Wren and Garrett Ventry stated on X that the “tape speaks for itself” and that “no one from the Kari Lake campaign threatened or blackmailed DeWit.”

On Wednesday night, Lake discussed the contents of the audiotape, which she called as a “bribery scandal,” on the social networking platform Rumble.

“They can’t stop us, and they know it,” Lake explained. “And so that’s why they’re trying to bribe me out of politics.”

She also blasted DeWit’s resignation letter, stating that he “did a horrible job.”

“He tried to act like the behavior you heard on that audio is normal communication amongst friends — it’s disgusting,” Lake went on to say.

In the previously disclosed audio of the March 2023 conversation between DeWit and Lake, broadcast online by Garret Lewis, a conservative talk show personality in Arizona, the chair can be heard saying Lake, “There are very powerful people that want to keep you out.”

“They’re willing to put their money where their mouth is in a very big way,” DeWit said, describing it as “an incredible opportunity.”

The “they” are never identified, only as “people back east.” Lake exclaimed, “This is crazy.” They should want me. I’m a fantastic candidate; people adore me.”

DeWit refused to identify the identities of the “very powerful people” to NBC News on Wednesday, but said the offer “had everything to do with her being a drag on the ticket.” There are folks that want us to win the election, and that’s it. Nobody believes she can cross the finish line, especially independents.”

Strange politics in Arizona: GOP head resigns after Kari Lake bribery accusation, claiming she frightened him

Lake’s meeting with DeWit, whom she had endorsed for chairman, occurred months after she lost the 2022 governor’s election to Democrat Katie Hobbs. Lake, a 2020 presidential election denier, claimed she won the governor race and filed a lawsuit to overturn the results. The lawsuit was dismissed in May of last year.

DeWit, a former Arizona state treasurer, managed Trump’s Arizona campaign in 2016 and served as chief operating officer for his 2020 campaign.

During the chat with Lake, DeWit can be heard saying that the anonymous people “want you to stay out for two years… they want you to be on their team.”

He responds by saying, “I’m not going to let these people in D.C. tell me not to run.”

DeWit then inquires, “Is there a number at which…” “I could be bought?” Lake asks. “No.”

She told DeWit, “This is about getting Trump out. It’s about getting DeSantis in,” and “I support Trump.”

DeWit pressed her to at least specify a price.

“I just hope you’d make a large counteroffer. “Give me a counter,” he asked.

“I can’t be bought,” she answered.

In his letter, DeWit stated that Lake had distributed a “selectively edited audio recording of our private conversation” that she produced while working for DeWit. “I genuinely believed I was offering a helpful perspective to someone I considered a friend,” he wrote in an email.

DeWit said Lake had made it her “mission to destroy me” following a conversation in which he suggested she quit her Senate candidacy and focus on another run for governor. Lake formally announced her Senate campaign in October.

Strange politics in Arizona: GOP head resigns after Kari Lake bribery accusation, claiming she frightened him

Lake appeared to refer to the conversation during his remarks at CPAC last year. “Somebody showed up at my door this week,” she said in the packed auditorium, and “they tried to bribe me out of getting out of politics.”

“They attempted to bribe me with a job title, a large salary, and a seat on a board. I said, “Are you kidding me?” She said. “This is how disgusting politics is.”

DeWit told NBC News that he felt burned by someone he thought was a friend. “I definitely felt like we were in a better place of trust after everything I had done for her. And I’m astounded that she showed no regard for that at all,” he continued.

It’s unclear why the tape was released now, but the Arizona Republican Party is hosting its annual gathering in Phoenix on Saturday.

Steve Daines, chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said he had no knowledge of the recording.

“I saw the report,” the Montana senator remarked, “but I have not listened to it.”

When asked about DeWit’s accusation that individuals “back east” wanted her to stay out of the campaign, Daines responded, “Look, I think Kari Lake is a great candidate, and she’s gonna win that race in Arizona.”

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