The chairman of the Arizona Republican Party announced his resignation after an audio recording revealed an interaction of him interacting with Senate candidate Kari Lake where he allegedly tried to convince her to stay out of the race.
Jeff DeWit released a statement on Wednesday afternoon saying that Ms Lake, the 2022 Republican nomineee for governor of Arizona, released an audio recording that he said was “selectively edited.”
“The recording, from over ten months ago, is not only taken out of context but also undermines the integrity of our party leadership,” he said. Mr DeWit said that the conversation came as he employed Ms Lake at his private company.
An audio recording obtained by The Daily Mail reportedly featured Mr Dewit telling Ms Lake that Republican leaders wondered if anyone could find “any companies out there or something that could just put her on the payroll to keep her out” of the 2024 election cycle.
Mr DeWit said that the recording was not an attempt to buy her off.
“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,” he said. Rather, Mr DeWit said that he suggested she postpone her Senate campaign and run for governor.
In the audio recording, Ms Lake can reportedly be heard saying “I can be bought? That's what it's about.”
Mr DeWit then says “Just say, is there a number at which” to which Ms Lake replies “I can be bought? That's what it's about.”
“You can take a pause for a couple of years,” Mr DeWit says. “You can go right back to what you're doing.”
In his statement on Wednesday, Mr DeWit accused Ms Lake of dishonesty.
“I believe she orchestrated this entire situation to have control of the state party, and it is obvious from the recording that she crafted her performance responses with the knowledge she was recording it, intending to use the recording to portray herself as a hero in her own story,” he said in his statement.
On Tuesday, Ms Lake told NBC News’s Vaughn Hillyard that Mr DeWit needed to resign.
“We can’t have somebody who’s corrupt and compromised running the Republican Party,” she said when campaigning for former president Donald Trump in New Hampshire.
Last year, during the Conservative Political Action Conference, Ms Lake alluded to this interaction.
“I’m telling you this because this is how disgusting politics is,” she told the crowd during a speech. “A mom who runs for office and they’re afraid of me?”
Ms Lake, a former news anchor, ran for governor in 2022 as a Republican and regularly repeated former president Donald Trump’s lies that the 2020 election was stolen, particularly in Arizona. Like Mr Trump, she refused to concede to Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs.
But most legal challenges have failed, with the Arizona Court of Appeals calling her claim “sheer speculation.”
Despite losing her race for governor, Ms Lake announced last year that she would run for Arizona’s Senate seat currently held by Kyrsten Sinema. Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego also announced that he would run for the seat last year. Ms Sinema, who left the Democratic Party in 2022 to become an independent, has not announced yet whether she will run for re-election.
Arizona’s Senate race will be closely watched and the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the seat as a “Toss-Up.”