An audio recording obtained by DailyMail.com reveals the extraordinary moment when what appears to be Arizona’s top Republican official tried to bribe populist firebrand Kari Lake not to run in the state’s Senate race.
Jeff DeWit, 51, chair of the Arizona Republican Party, can be heard asking Lake, a close ally of Donald Trump, to name her price to stay out of politics for two years.
‘There are very powerful people who want to keep you out,’ he tells her in a conversation recorded at the start of March last year.
DeWit tells Lake, 54, one of the most public faces of the former president’s MAGA movement and a woman frequently spoken of as a 2024 vice-presidential pick, that he thinks Trump will lose and it is time to make way for someone else.
After asking her not to mention the conversation to anyone, he makes his first offer.
‘So 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?’
Lake reacts with indignation.
‘This is about defeating Trump and I think that’s a bad, bad thing for our country,’ she said.
Later, DeWit, who was chief operating officer on the Trump’s 2020 campaign frames it differently.
‘Just say, is there a number at which….’ he begins.
Lake cut in: ‘I can be bought? That’s what it’s about.’
‘You can take a pause for a couple of years. You can go right back to what you’re doing.’
Lake repeatedly rebuffs him and says she wouldn’t do it for a billion dollars.
‘This is not about money, it’s about our country,’ she says.
Two sources confirmed DeWit’s identity as the speaker.
He and his press secretary did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Lake’s office also did not respond.
At the time of their conversation, Lake was publicly mulling a run for the U.S. Senate.
And the episode reveals the tensions triggered after she refused to accept defeat in the 2022 Arizona governor race.
She emerged as a national figure, becoming a regular on Fox News as she echoed Trump’s election denialism. That put her at odds with the more traditional wing of the Republican Party who feared a new breed of Trump loyalist may alienate big donors.
In October, she announced her run.
Lake has previously discussed the extraordinary effort to keep her out of the race, but never revealed who was behind it.
On Monday, Arizona talk show host Garret Lewis named DeWit, who was elected chairman of the party in January last year.
He was state treasurer of the party before being appointed by Trump to be NASA’s chief financial officer.
Arizona party officials quickly called for him to step down as news of his offer to Lake spread.
‘If this is, in fact, true, I’m asking AZGOP Chairman Jeff DeWit to resign.” said Maricopa County Republican Committee Chairman Craig Berland.
It is latest in a string of scandals to hit state Republican Parties. Earlier this month the Florida party ousted its chairman after the police said he was being investigated for sexual assault.
The new 10-minute audio clip includes DeWit asking for secrecy.
‘If you say no, its fine, it’s your choice, don’t tell people,’ he tells Lake.
Later he sets out the rationale behind the offer.
‘I think what it really comes down to for a lot of people, it’s not about like control or agenda,’ he says. ‘It’s about the ability to raise money to win.’
Lake sticks to her guns.
‘I don’t want to make a deal with these kinds of people. This is a hill worth dying on,’ she said.
‘I’m not … if they’re gonna steal the election to make me and our movement go away. I’m not letting them do that.
‘I owe it to the people of Arizona to carry their torch and voice.’
Lake revealed the approach days after it happened. She used an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference to describe how someone had shown up at her door.
‘They called me before and said I got to talk to you in person. It’s can’t be done over the phone,’ she said.
She described being asked to name her price for getting out of politics for two years.
‘Now I’m going to be honest, at that very moment. I wanted to sic my dog on him,’ she told the audience in Orlando, Florida.
‘But I have a pug and it wasn’t gonna happen.’
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If the AZ Republican Party would offer @KariLake millions of dollars to not run for the US Senate, just imagine what they’d do to rig the election so she couldn’t be Governor
“But Maricopa was run by Republicans!”
Yeah, exactly https://t.co/RRzKK4Vfll
— DC_Draino (@DC_Draino) January 23, 2024