Senate hopeful Kari Lake mingles with D.C. lobbyists despite anti-establishment rhetoric

Republican Arizona Senate candidate Kari Lake speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2024, at National Harbor, in Oxon Hill, Md., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

By Sophie Boudreau

March 11, 2024

Lake spent last week in Washington D.C., where she mingled with lobbyists, appeared at a glitzy fundraiser for her campaign, and met with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. 

Ahead of what promises to be a hotly contested Arizona Senate race, Republican candidate Kari Lake has touted herself as an “anti-establishment” politician who stands up to “political elites.” 

But despite her continued declarations of distaste for lobbyists, sources say Lake has discreetly filled her schedule with fundraising events and lobbyist meetings. 

As reported by CNBC, Lake mingled with around a dozen lobbyists last Tuesday and appeared at a Washington, D.C. fundraiser for her Kari Lake Victory Fund last Wednesday with the in-person support of leaders like Sens. Steve Daines (R-MT), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA). 

Reception details for U.S. Senate candidate, Kari Lake on March 6, 2024.

A flier for the event suggested sponsors contribute $3,300 personally or $5,000 via a PAC, while attendees were urged to give $500 personally or $1,000 in PAC funds. The fundraiser brought in $330,000 for Lake, whose campaign has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump. 

Lake’s appearances in D.C. come just two months after she expressed disdain for lobbyists and “political elites” via social media.
“I don’t give a damn what the lobbyists think. I don’t care how much they vilify me in the media. I don’t want a seat at the table with the political elites. I care about kitchen table issues,” Lake wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

This isn’t the first time Lake has been caught in a conflicting claim about campaign finances. Last year, she collected $75,000 from speaking arrangements despite a tweet from the “Kari Lake War Room” directly stating that Lake “doesn’t charge a speaking fee.”

Lake also met with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell ahead of last week’s fundraiser, despite waffling statements about her confidence in McConnell’s cognitive and physical health. 

During an appearance on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast last August, Lake expressed concern for McConnell’s fitness to lead. “There’s something medical—when you freeze up and they have to, like, take your body and move it away from the podium,” she said. “Something’s going on there, and he’s going to make all the decisions about who represents the people of Arizona?”

An anonymous source told CNBC last week that Lake also met with lobbyist Rick Dearborn during her time in Washington. The two discussed Dearborn’s connections to companies like Verizon and Shell, some of which might want to work with Lake on future campaign events. 

Sources also say that despite publicly expressing concern for what she calls a “stolen election” in 2020 and even filing a series of unsuccessful lawsuits challenging her 2022 Arizona gubernatorial loss to Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs, Lake has not made election integrity a topic of conversation in lobbyist meetings. Instead, meetings have centered on policy. 

Lake aligns with far-right conservative stances on most issues, including abortion and immigration. 

Her 10-Point Plan to Secure the Border expresses support for completion of Trump’s border wall and increased surveillance at the border. 

If elected, she says she would support an Arizona ballot initiative banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. A statement on her website reads, “Kari wants to do everything she can to help women choose life, to choose to bring that blessing into their own existence.”

Lake is poised to face off with Rep. Ruben Gallegos (D-Ariz.) in this fall’s Senate race. 

Author

  • Sophie Boudreau

    Sophie Boudreau is a writer and editor with nearly a decade of experience covering lifestyle, culture, and political topics. She previously served as senior editor at eHow and produced Michigan and Detroit content for Only In Your State.

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