Bribery or Blackmail? Arizona GOP Chair Resigns Over Leaked Audio, Alleges Pressure from Kari Lake

Arizona Republican Party Chair Jeff DeWit resigned on Wednesday after audio leaked to the Daily Mail apparently showed him trying to induce Kari Lake to not run for Senate.


Arizona Republican Party Chair Jeff DeWit resigned on Wednesday after audio leaked to the Daily Mail apparently showed him trying to induce Kari Lake to not run for Senate. DeWit claims Lake doctored the recording to force him out and alleges Lake’s team tried to blackmail him.

  • After leaking the recording to the Daily Mail, Lake called DeWit “corrupt” and demanded his resignation. She ignored a question from reporters at a public event on Wednesday asking why she waited 10 months to release the audio. 
  • In the audio, DeWit apparently tells Lake that there are “very powerful people that want to keep you out…back East” and asks her if there is “any number” that would make her want to take a “pause” and wait to run for governor in 2026. 
  • In a statement after his resignation, DeWit said he quit because Lake’s release of a “selectively edited audio recording of our private conversation” is part of her “mission to destroy me.” DeWit claimed he “received an ultimatum” from Lake to “resign today or face the release of a new, more damaging recording.” 
  • DeWit claims the meeting was a set-up by Lake as part of a plan to take over the Arizona GOP. In his statement, DeWit flagged her “disturbing tendency” to record and weaponize private conversations as a concern given her close contact with former President Donald Trump. 
  • DeWit denied that he tried to bribe Lake and pointed out that Lake recorded their conversation while she was employed by his private company. He claimed that he “intended to offer perspective, not coercion” and thought that Lake and the Arizona GOP would both be better off if she waited two years and ran for governor in 2026 instead of seeking a Senate seat in 2024. 
  • Lake, the first Republican to lose an open-seat gubernatorial race in Arizona since 2002, spent months fruitlessly challenging her defeat in court and never substantiated her election fraud claims. She jumped in the race for Sen. Krysten Sinema’s seat without conceding defeat.
  • DeWit’s resignation marks the third downfall of a swing-state Republican Party chairman in recent weeks. Florida GOP Chair Christian Ziegler was ousted after rape allegations surfaced, while Michigan party boss Kristina Karamo was removed for financial mismanagement.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • “The secret recording fiasco highlights the schism among Arizona Republicans over the party’s direction during an election year in which Arizona will again be a close swing state,” the Guardian observed. “In recent years, the state party moved further to the right and embraced Trumpism at a time when the state itself moved more toward the center.” 
  • Mr. DeWit said that hopes of Ms. Lake’s bowing out of the Senate race stemmed from concerns about her electability in a purple state,” the New York Times noted. “If Ms. Lake defeats Mark Lamb, a sheriff, in the Republican primary as she is widely expected to, she could be in for a tough fight against her likely Democratic opponent, Representative Ruben Gallego. The race has extra complexity as Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat-turned-independent, could still decide to seek re-election.” 
  • “It’s not illegal, or unheard of, for top party officials to attempt to clear the field of unfavorable candidates in order to pave the way for a preferred alternative,” NPR pointed out. “In the audio recording, DeWit raised concerns about Lake’s ability to fundraise enough money to win the U.S. Senate race, as well as former President Donald Trump’s ability to win another election – and by association, Lake’s own electability.”



  • Fox News picked up the statement from Lake campaign staffers denying DeWit’s blackmail allegations. “The tape speaks for itself: The Arizona GOP Chairman Jeff DeWit attempted to bribe Kari Lake,” Lake’s staff told Fox News Digital. 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.” 
  • “Arizona, once regarded as a solid red state, has trended purple in recent election cycles. In addition to Hobbs’ victory over Lake in 2022, the Grand Canyon State has not elected a GOP senator since the late John McCain in 2016,” the New York Post observed. “In the 2020 presidential election, Arizona went for the Democratic candidate for just the second time since 1952.”
  • Breitbart pointed out that Lake had apparently alluded to this conversation last July in an interview with Breitbart. “I had a pretty high profile person come to my door and offer me money to put my movement on hold and my political career on hold — offered me a cushy job, nice paycheck, position on a board,” she said at the time. It’s not clear why, if Lake is as “extremely ethical” as her campaign claims she is, Lake waited months before making the audio public.

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© Dominic Moore, 2023