Arizona Republican Party Chairman Jeff DeWit resigned on Wednesday over explosive allegations from Senate candidate Kari Lake claiming Dewit had attempted to bribe her to abandon her campaign. According to leaked audio from a conversation between the two recorded last year, “very powerful people” wanted Lake to bow out of politics for the next two years—but even as he resigned, DeWit maintained that it was Lake who had acted nefariously.

Arizona Republican Party Chairman Jeff DeWit resigned after Senate candidate Kari Lake accused him of attempting to bribe her into ending her campaign. (Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP, File)
Former Arizona Republican Party Chairman Jeff DeWit. (Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP, File)

First reported by the Daily Mail on Tuesday, Dewit allegedly approached Lake in March 2023, when the newscaster-turned-candidate was working at his private company. In the recording (presumably made by Lake), DeWit is heard offering her money or a lucrative job on behalf of unknown parties “back east” in exchange for her ending her Senate campaign.

“There are very powerful people who want to keep you out,” Dewit said. “But they’re willing to put their money where their mouth is in a big way.”

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After a tongue-in-cheek declaration that “this conversation never happened,” Dewit made an opening offer on behalf of these unknown individuals.

DeWit: “The ask I got today from back east was: ‘Is there any companies out there or something that could just put her on the payroll to keep her out?’ I said ‘Well, what do you want to do?’ [They said] ‘Whatever we need to do.’”

Lake: “This is about defeating Trump and I think that’s a bad, bad thing for our country. DeSantis is not America First. This is about a final deathblow to Trump, and I don’t think that’s good for our country.”

D: “It’s not, but at the same time (*sigh*) I’m not even sure Trump can win again…I think what it really comes down to for a lot of people, it’s not about, like, control or agenda, it’s about the ability to raise money to win.”

Elsewhere in the recording, DeWit makes a different pitch:

D: Is there a number at which—

L: I can be bought? *chuckles* That’s what it’s about?

D: You can take a pause for a couple of years. You can go right back to what you’re doing.

L: No. No. 10 million? 20 million? 30? No, no, no. A billion? No. This is not about money, this is about our country…

The full 10-minute conversation continues along these same lines, with Dewit promising Lake a “bigger voice” in politics if she was willing to play along with the parties behind the offer and laughing at Lake’s suggestion that “they might have me murdered.”

Related: Donald Trump Endorses Kari Lake at Arizona Senate Campaign Launch

Following the report from the Daily Mail, Lake immediately called on DeWit to resign from the Arizona GOP. Though he initially indicated that he would fight to maintain his position, DeWit ultimately submitted his resignation on Wednesday—but rather than admitting guilt, he insisted that Lake’s ultimatum and threats of blackmail were responsible for the decision.

“In light of the recent revelation that Kari Lake has released a selectively edited audio recording of our private conversation, I must clearly address this deceptive tactic,” the former chairman wrote in a lengthy response. “The recording, from over ten months ago, is not only taken out of context, but also undermines the integrity of private discussions critical for party leadership.”

DeWit alleges that he was “set up” and raises “legal and moral concerns” over the secret recording, which was motivated by Lake’s desire to “have control over the state’s party.” Unable to compete with the Senate candidate’s “massive megaphone,” he has no choice but to return to leave politics altogether.

“A few hours ago, I received an ultimatum from Lake’s team: resign today or face the release of a new, more damaging recording,” he wrote. “I am truly unsure of its contents, but considering our numerous past open conversations as friends, I have decided not to take the risk… I am resigning as Lake requested, in the hope that she will honor her commitment to cease her attacks, allowing me to return to the business sector—a field I find much more logical and prefer over politics.”

Kari Lake had previously made veiled references to this alleged bribery attempt during the 2023 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), as well as during an appearance on the PBD Podcast—but both times, she declined to name who was involved. This led to her claims being dismissed by the media along with her allegations of voter fraud in the 2022 gubernatorial election.

Connor Walcott is a staff writer for Follow Connor on X (Twitter) and look for him on VT’s “The Unusual Suspects.”

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