Arizona GOP chair resigns amid leaked Kari Lake audio controversy | CNN Politics

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Arizona GOP chair resigns amid leaked Kari Lake audio controversy | CNN Politics



CNN
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The chairman of the Arizona Republican Birthday party mentioned Wednesday he’s resigning, claiming he was once doing so amid drive from GOP Senate candidate Kari Lake.

Jeff DeWit’s resignation comes after The Day by day Mail printed an audio recording of a dialog between DeWit and Lake by which he defined to her that there have been monetary advantages to staying out of the state’s 2024 Senate race. DeWit mentioned Lake threatened to unlock a “extra harmful” audio recording if he didn’t renounce Wednesday.

Lake senior advisers Caroline Wren and Garrett Ventry described DeWit as making “false claims.”

“No person from the Kari Lake marketing campaign threatened or blackmailed DeWit,” Wren and Ventry mentioned in a commentary. “It’s unlucky that Dewit hasn’t identified how unethical his habits was once and nonetheless hasn’t apologized to Arizona Republicans.”

DeWit, a former Trump marketing campaign leader running officer and NASA leader monetary officer, mentioned that the dialog had taken position in Lake’s house 10 months in the past, whilst she was once an worker of his personal industry.

In a commentary posted Wednesday by way of the Arizona Republican Birthday party on X, the social media platform previously referred to as Twitter, DeWit mentioned he believes he “was once arrange” in a bid by way of Lake “to have regulate over the state birthday celebration.”

“This morning, I used to be made up our minds to battle for my place. Alternatively, a couple of hours in the past, I won an ultimatum from Lake’s staff: renounce nowadays or face the discharge of a brand new, extra harmful recording. I’m in reality undecided of its contents, however bearing in mind our a lot of previous open conversations as buddies, I’ve determined to not take the chance. I’m resigning as Lake asked, within the hope that she’s going to honor her dedication to stop her assaults, permitting me to go back to the industry sector — a box I to find a lot more logical and like over politics,” DeWit mentioned within the commentary.

Within the audio recording printed Tuesday, DeWit says he was once requested by way of “very tough other folks” from “again east” whether or not there are firms that might put Lake on their payroll and stay her from operating. He additionally says he wish to see a “contemporary face” within the Senate race.

“Is there a host at which,” DeWit starts to invite within the audio recording.

“I will be purchased? That’s what it’s about,” Lake interjects.

“Now not be purchased,” DeWit says. “You’ll take a pause for a few years. Then cross proper again to what you’re doing.”

“No,” she says. “$10 million, $20 million, $30, no. $1 billion, no. This isn’t about cash, that is about our nation.”

“The tape speaks for itself: The Arizona GOP Chairman Jeff DeWit tried to bribe Kari Lake,” Lake’s aides, Wren and Ventry, mentioned. “Fortunately Kari is a particularly moral one who rejected DeWit’s a couple of makes an attempt to supply her cash and company board seats in alternate for Kari now not operating for public place of business. She might be an improbable senator for Arizonans.”

Lake mentioned in a livestreamed marketing campaign match on Wednesday she concept DeWit’s behavior at the recording was once “disgusting” and mentioned she felt DeWit “did a terrible task” as head of the Arizona GOP.

“It got here very overdue,” Lake mentioned of DeWit’s resignation letter, which was once launched Wednesday afternoon. “I didn’t see an apology to the folk of Arizona. He attempted to behave just like the habits you heard on that audio is commonplace conversation among buddies. It’s disgusting.”

“I feel he did a terrible task, and he will have to have simply apologized, resigned and apologized and mentioned he’s going to paintings to do higher,” she added.

The previous Arizona gubernatorial candidate didn’t reply to the allegations made by way of DeWit in his resignation letter by which he claimed Lake threatened to unlock a “extra harmful” recording if he didn’t renounce on Wednesday.

In his resignation commentary, DeWit mentioned, “Opposite to the accusations of bribery, my discussions have been clear and supposed to supply standpoint, now not coercion.”

DeWit’s resignation is the most recent bankruptcy in years of turmoil atop the Arizona GOP, which has been divided between onetime status quo Republicans and a faction aligned with Donald Trump this is dedicated to pursuing the previous president’s false claims of standard fraud within the 2020 election.

A former Arizona state treasurer, DeWit was once observed as a bridge between the ones factions – partly on account of his paintings for Trump’s marketing campaign and management – when he was once tapped as state GOP chairman in January 2023.

Alex Wong/Getty Photographs

Former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake speaks on the Conservative Political Motion Convention in Nationwide Harbor, Maryland, on March 4, 2023.

He mentioned his dialog with Lake was once “supposed to supply standpoint, now not coercion,” including that it were an “open, unguarded alternate between buddies in the lounge of her space.” DeWit mentioned he prompt Lake, who misplaced the 2022 gubernatorial race, to hunt the governor’s place of business once more in 2026 as a substitute of operating for the Senate seat of unbiased Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.

Since that dialog, he mentioned, Lake “has been on a challenge to ruin me.”

“The discharge of our dialog by way of Lake confirms a irritating tendency to milk personal interactions for private achieve and will increase issues about her dependancy of secretly recording non-public and personal conversations. That is clearly a priority given how a lot interplay she has with top profile other folks together with President Trump,” DeWit mentioned. “I query how efficient a United States Senator can also be once they can’t be relied on to interact in personal and confidential conversations.”

Arizona is poised to play a pivotal function in 2024 as one of the vital country’s best presidential battlegrounds, and with a key Senate race at the poll, as smartly.

Lake is amongst a number of GOP contenders for the seat recently held by way of Sinema, who has now not but mentioned whether or not she’s going to search reelection. The main Democratic candidate for the seat is US Rep. Ruben Gallego.

This tale has been up to date with further main points.

CNN’s Aaron Pellish contributed to this tale.