Arizona GOP Elects VoteRef Director and Trump Ally as New Chair

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Arizona Republican Party has elected Gina Swoboda to be the party’s next chairperson following the abrupt resignation of Jeff DeWit, who found himself ensnared in a bribery scandal with election-denier and current U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake last week.

Swoboda has largely been praised by Arizona Republicans, as well as by former President Donald Trump, who had endorsed her in the race to replace DeWit. Lake also endorsed Swoboda, claiming she is “a national leader in election law.” Swoboda previously served on Lake’s 2022 campaign for governor and was Trump’s 2020 Election Day director of operations.

The election comes just days after a recording between Lake and DeWit was leaked, where the former chairman seemingly inquired about bribing Lake to keep her out of the upcoming Senate race. Lake declined the offer and spoke out against the offer. Among other statements, DeWit had told Lake that “very powerful people” wanted to keep her out of the race and that they were wondering if there were “any companies out there or something that could just put her on the payroll to keep her out?”

Swoboda has also worked in the Arizona secretary of state’s office under Secs. Michelle Reagan (R) and Katie Hobbs (D). More recently, she has served as an election advisor to the Arizona Senate. 

Perhaps most notably, Swoboda runs the Voter Reference Foundation (VoteRef), a conservative group that publishes voter information online. The group has repeatedly pushed conspiracies about election fraud, and is funded in part by a billionaire Trump donor. VoteRef has also encouraged election vigilantism, and the platform can help to increase voter challenges, a legal, though deeply flawed, practice in many states that allows private citizens to challenge the voter eligibility of other voters. 

In an interview with Steve Bannon, Swoboda defended lawsuits filed by Republicans in the state challenging the use of drop boxes and advocating for stringent signature matching. She also previewed lawsuits that would soon be filed by Republican legislators and the state party challenging portions of the state’s election procedure manual.

Read more about VoteRef here.

Last updated: Monday, Jan. 29 at 3:41 p.m. EST