A staffer for Arizona Republican candidate Kari Lake once pleaded guilty to battery against a peace officer and plotted to have an FBI informant killed as part of a heroin distribution case.
The Lake campaign confirmed Tuesday that Kenneth Ulibarri, who appeared with the gubernatorial candidate at her first rally last July, had been hired to oversee Latino engagement, and The Daily Beast independently confirmed his violent past state and federal court records.
The Justice Department accused Ulibarri in 2014 in a superseding indictment of attempting to kill an FBI informant to stop him from testifying at a cocaine distribution and money laundering trial, and he later admitted in a plea agreement to telling an undercover FBI informant that he knew he was working for federal authorities and warned that he was "hiring a hitman" to kill him.
He later claimed in his plea agreement that he wasn't serious about the murder plot but was using it as leverage to get more money for selling heroin.
“In May 2014, I met with a confidential source (CHS1) to discuss selling heroin to CHS1," Ulibarri wrote in the agreement. "In those meetings, I told CHS1 that I and some others were hiring a hitman to kill another confidential source (CHS2) for $20,000."
Federal prosecutors said that Ulibarri had met with the first confidential informant multiple times over two weeks to discuss the murder-for-hire plot, and they said Ulibarri was “totally fine” with taking $1,000 up front and getting the remaining $4,000 after the killing.
“We are left with the defendant’s chilling assurances that CHS-1 could just settle up his tab after the murder," prosecutors said.
Ulibarri ultimately pleaded to obstruction of justice and a heroin distribution charge, and he was sentenced to time served and three years supervised release.
He pleaded guilty again to battery upon a peace officer in 2019, a charge that was first brought in September 2014, the same month DOJ investigators say he had “attempted to murder” the informant.
Ulibarri was also charged in a 2006 drug case in New Mexico -- a state he described as a "liberal cesspool" at the Lake rally -- and he was convicted in 2014 for driving under the influence and sentenced in 2002 to six years on multiple charges related to vehicle theft and criminal damage.
He had been jailed in 1999 on those charges, and reportedly beat another inmate while locked up.