ICYMI: Kari Lake’s leaked recording is causing trust issues in the Arizona GOP [Washington Post]

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, February 6th, 2024
Contact: Olivia Taylor-Puckett, otpuckett@azdem.org
ICYMI: Kari Lake’s leaked recording is causing trust issues in the Arizona GOP [Washington Post]

ARIZONA -– A new report from the Washington Post details how the chaos created by Kari Lake’s nightmare campaign for Senate is “causing trust issues in the Arizona GOP.

This report exposes how Kari Lake’s chaos campaign is “totally [killing]” Republicans’ desire to talk or associate with Lake and her nightmare campaign and reveals “Arizona Republicans — including elected officials, candidates and party donors — said they had long assumed they were being recorded when they were around Lake or speaking to her by phone.

Read more about Lake’s “blowback” and why Republicans are saying, “I don’t trust her — I am done:

Washington Post: Kari Lake’s leaked recording is causing trust issues in the Arizona GOP

By Yvonne Wingett Sanchez

February 6th, 2024

Key Points:

  • But as the Arizona Senate candidate addressed hundreds of the state GOP’s most loyal activists late last month, she was booed so loudly the sound carried through a cavernous megachurch’s auditorium into the lobby.
  • It was an unfamiliar greeting for Lake, an outspoken election denier and former local television anchor who just a year ago was welcomed rapturously by the same Donald Trump-supporting crowd.
  • Yet it was an indication of the mistrust that’s developed within the Arizona GOP after Lake and her allies appeared to have turned a favorite hardball tactic — taping conversations and then leaking them publicly — against one of the party’s own.
  • In interviews, a dozen Arizona Republicans — including elected officials, candidates and party donors — said they had long assumed they were being recorded when they were around Lake or speaking to her by phone. One well-known Republican, who like others interviewed for this report spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive subject, said the release of the DeWit recording has “totally killed” any desire to talk or text with her.
  • But interviews with Republican activists suggest the leaked tape has opened a new line of attack against her and has already diminished trust in her among some of her biggest supporters.
  • “I don’t trust her — I am done,” said Barbara Wyllie, 81, a lifelong Republican who shifted her support after release of the recording to Lake’s GOP primary opponent, Mark Lamb, a county sheriff.
  • “When she did that to Jeff DeWit, it’s like, ‘Okay, she’s wired for everybody,” said Wyllie, who was in the audience when Lake took the stage and said she was surprised by the sustained booing that came from “all over the room.”
  • Lake seemed taken aback by the crowd’s response, attendees said.
  • “We don’t agree on everything,” she said to loud jeering, according to videos obtained by The Washington Post of the appearance, which was not open to the press. She pressed ahead, repeating a false claim: “But one thing we do agree on: The elections in Arizona are a corrupt mess.”
  • The line typically pleases Republican crowds all around this desert state, which Trump won in 2016 before narrowly losing it in 2020. It did not quell the crowd.
  • “To the extent that people in the party have character questions and authenticity questions about Kari Lake, this story plays into those questions,” said Kirk Adams, a political and business consultant, former Arizona House speaker, and onetime chief of staff to former governor Doug Ducey (R).
  • But other national groups are still in wait-and-see mode about Arizona, where Republicans have performed dismally in recent cycles and where Lake has been a particularly divisive figure.
  • In the spring, before Lake entered the Senate race, prominent national and local Republicans expressed skepticism that she could win. She had just lost the 2022 gubernatorial election by about 17,000 votes, delivering a crucial pickup to the Democrats. Lake’s GOP critics worried that her style of politics was too extreme for moderate Republicans and independent voters, whose support is key to winning a state that is no longer reliably red.
  • DeWit searched for other potential candidates, even drawing up a list that included some of the biggest names in Arizona sports, said a person familiar with the efforts who spoke on the condition of anonymity. In early March, he drove to Lake’s home for a private conversation to see if he could talk her out of running.
  • They sat across from each other in her living room as her small dog roamed, according to a person familiar with the encounter. Lake recorded the conversation, which is legal in Arizona, as a way to protect herself, a campaign representative said. In doing so, this person said, Lake “exposed an unethical individual attempting to bribe her out of politics. It didn’t work, she can’t be bought.”
  • DeWit said he was shocked to learn of the recording, calling it a “betrayal of trust.”
  • “The release of our conversation by Lake confirms a disturbing tendency to exploit private interactions for personal gain,” he said.
  • Lake’s campaign did not address the question when asked whether there were other recordings of her dealings with Republicans.
  • Some Republicans said they assumed they were taped by Lake because, as one described it, “she always had something on the back of her arm,” which the person thought was part of an audio device.
  • One Arizona Republican who spoke to Lake on the phone last year before she entered the Senate race later learned that the conversation had been recorded, according to three people who were briefed about the contents of the call and the existence of a recording. Extensive portions of a conversation between Lake and 2022 Republican senatorial candidate Blake Masters, who considered running again for the Senate this year, were published in a Sept. 12 story by the Daily Beast. The story did not say that a recording had been made.
  • A passage in Lake’s memoir that recounted a meeting she had with Ducey after she won the 2022 GOP gubernatorial primary described the then-governor speaking few words. Ducey had been advised by aides before the meeting to presume that he was being recorded, said a person familiar with the discussion.


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