Arizona GOP Chair Resigns Amid Curry Lake Audio Controversy



CNN

The head of the Arizona Republican Party said Wednesday he was resigning, saying he was doing so amid pressure from a GOP Senate candidate. Kari Lake.

Geoff Dewitt's resignation comes after the Daily Mail published an audio recording of a conversation between Tait and Lake, explaining that he had financial benefits from staying out of the 2024 Senate race. DeWitt said Lake threatened to release an “extremely damaging” audio recording unless he resigned on Wednesday.

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

“No one from the Gary Lake campaign threatened or threatened DeWitt,” Wren and Ventry said in a statement. “It's unfortunate that David has not acknowledged how unethical his behavior was and has yet to apologize to Arizona Republicans.”

DeWitt, the former chief operating officer of the Trump campaign and NASA's chief financial officer, said the conversation took place 10 months ago when she was at Lake's home as an employee at his private business.

In a statement issued on Wednesday DeWit said he believed he was being “set up” by Lake's effort to “take control of the state party” by the Arizona Republican Party on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

“This morning, I was determined to fight for my position. However, a few hours ago, I received an ultimatum from Lake's team: resign today or release a new, more damaging record. I'm not really sure about its contents, but considering our past open conversations as friends, I've decided not to take the risk. I am resigning as requested by Lake, who will honor his commitment to end his attacks and allow me to return to the business sector – a sector that I prefer more logically and to politics,” DeWitt said in the statement.

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In an audio recording released Tuesday, DeWitt says “very powerful people” “back east” asked him if there were companies that could put Aeri on their payroll and keep her out of business. He also says he wants to see a “fresh face” in the Senate race.

“Is there a number to this,” DeWitt begins asking in the audio recording.

“Can you buy me? That's about it,” Lake interjects.

“Can't buy,” says DeWitt. “You can pause for two years. Then go about what you're doing.

“No,” she says. “$10 million, $20 million, $30, no. $1 billion, no. It's not about the money, it's about our country.

“The tape speaks for itself: Arizona GOP Chairman Jeff DeWitt tried to bribe Cary Lake,” said Wren and Ventry, Lake's aides. “Fortunately, Cary is a very decent person who rejected DeWitt's many attempts to offer him money and corporate board seats in exchange for Cary not running for public office. He will be an incredible senator for Arizonans.

Lake said at a live campaign event Wednesday that he thought DeWitt's record was “disgusting” and said he felt DeWitt had “done a terrible job” as head of the Arizona GOP.

“It came too late,” Lake said of DeWitt's resignation letter, which was released Wednesday afternoon. “I don't see an apology to the people of Arizona. He tried to act like the behavior you heard in the audio was normal interaction between friends. It's disgusting.

“I think he did a terrible job, he should have apologized, resigned and apologized, and he's going to work to do better,” he added.

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The former Arizona gubernatorial candidate did not respond to allegations made by DeWitt in her resignation letter, in which she said Lake threatened to release a “very damaging” tape if she did not resign Wednesday.

In his resignation statement, DeWitt said, “Contrary to allegations of bribery, my discussions were open and aimed at providing perspective, not coercion.”

DeWit's resignation is the latest chapter in years of turmoil in the Arizona GOP, which has been split between once-establishment Republicans and a faction aligned with Donald Trump that is committed to pursuing the former president's false claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election.

A former Arizona state treasurer, DeWitt was seen as a bridge between those factions — thanks to his work on Trump's campaign and administration — and was elected state GOP chairman in January 2023.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Gary Lake speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 4, 2023 in National Harbor, Maryland.

He said his conversation with Arie was “to provide perspective, not coercion,” and that it was “an open, unguarded exchange between friends in the living room of his house.” DeWitt said he advised Lake, who lost the 2022 gubernatorial race, to seek the governor's office again in 2026 instead of running for the independent Sen's Senate seat. Christmas cinema.

Since that conversation, Aeri has said she is “on a mission to destroy me.”

“The release of our conversations confirms Arie's disturbing trend of using private communications for personal gain and raises concerns about his practice of secretly recording personal and private conversations. This is obviously troubling given how much he interacts with high-profile figures, including President Trump,” DeWitt said. “Private And I question how useful a United States senator can be when he can't be trusted to engage in confidential conversations.”

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Arizona is poised to play a key role in one of the nation's most competitive presidential battlegrounds in 2024, with a key Senate race on the ballot.

Lake is among several GOP contenders for the seat Sinema currently holds, and has not yet said whether he will seek re-election. The leading Democratic candidate for U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego.

This story has been updated with additional details.

CNN's Aaron Bellish contributed to this story.

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