Party officials from across the state gathered in Phoenix for a long scheduled meeting and to select a replacement for Jeff DeWit, who stood down after DailyMail.com published a recording of the moment he apparently offered Lake a bribe not to run again.
But the secret audio has divided the party. While some have applauded Lake, a firebrand hardliner who is close to Donald Trump, others accused her of secretly wearing a wire to set up DeWit.
Some of that bubbled over when she took the stage at the state meeting held in a Phoenix megachurch.
Witnesses said she was booed for a minute as she tried to make the case for Gina Swoboda as chair.
Leaked audio captured the moment when Arizona Republican Party Chair Jeff DeWit offered Kari Lake a job or money to step out of politics for two years
‘You may not agree with me on everything,’ she said as she battled the noise, ‘but what we can agree on is that elections in Arizona are a corrupt mess election.
‘Can we agree that elections are a mess in Arizona? No?’
The outbursts reflect the crisis facing the Arizona party, as different wings squabble over who is to blame for fundraising problems.
After DeWit resigned, Trump canceled an appearance at the party’s ‘Freedom Fest’ on Friday, which would have brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in a crucial election year.
Vera Gebran, who ran for state chair last year, said she had seen Lake speak all over the country, and had never seen her get such a hostile reception.
‘I think she was booed because of a perception that she’s gone too far,’ she said.
Kelli Ward, a former chair, is also caught on video snatching away a microphone from another attendee as she tries to make a point while onlookers tell her she is no longer in charge.
Lake came to fame as a TV news anchor in Arizona but has been a polarizing figure since running for governor. She claims the election was stolen from her, but has lost several court challengers.
Last year, Lake claimed that an unnamed person had come to her house and tried to bribe her not to run again.
Republicans from across Arizona gathered at Dream City Church, Phoenix, for their annual mandatory meeting. This year it was dominated by the fallout from the resignation of DeWit
Vera Gebran, who ran for chair in 2023, said she had never seen Lake get such a hostile reception and that it was sparked by some attendees thinking she had gone too far
On Tuesday, DailyMail.com published leaked audio of the conversation with DeWit at a time when she was known to be weighing a Senate run..
In it, he can be heard saying: ‘There are very powerful people who want to keep you out.’
He floats the idea of a well-paid job and asks her ‘… is there a number at which…’ as if asking her price to sit out of politics for two years.
She repeatedly rebuffs his approach.
In his resignation statement DeWit accused Lake of setting him up by recording a private conversation.
‘This morning I was determined to fight for my position,’ said DeWit, 51, Wednesday.
‘However a few hours ago I received an ultimatum from Lake’s team: Resign today or face the release of a new, more damaging recording.’
DeWit was the chief operating officer for Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns. The Trump administration nominated him for a senior role in NASA and he took over the Arizona Republican party in January last year.
The meeting with Lake came weeks later.
DeWit claimed he simply suggested postponing her plans for two years in order to run for governor again.
‘It was a suggestion made in good faith, believing it could benefit both her future prospects and the party’s overall strategy,’ he said.
He admitted he ‘said things I regret’ but accused Lake of ‘deceptive tactics’ and of releasing a ‘selectively edited’ audio recording.