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By Bradford Pearson
Posted: Dec 7th, 2012
On Monday afternoon, Mother Jones broke the story that former Dallas congressman and House Majority Leader Dick Armey was leaving his post as chairman of Tea Party funhouse Freedomworks. Subsequent media reports indicated he would be paid $8 million over the next 20 years for his services, which seems like a nice severance package.
Every news outlet with a political pulse had a different angle. Politico’s:
The tensions at FreedomWorks, brewing for months, boiled over this summer when Armey balked at a deal that [Freedomworks CEO] Kibbe struck with HarperCollins to write a book called “Hostile Takeover: Resisting Centralized Government’s Stranglehold on America,” which was released in June.
Armey was concerned that Kibbe structured the deal to personally profit from the book despite relying on FreedomWorks staff and resources to research, help write and promote it — an arrangement he and others at the group believed could jeopardize its tax-exempt status. (In 2010, Kibbe and Armey co-authored a book through HarperCollins, “Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto,” that was written with significant help from FreedomWorks staff and all proceeds had gone to the organization.)
So Armey declined to sign a memorandum presented to him in his capacity as a member of the board of trustees stating that the book was written without significant FreedomWorks resources and clearing the way for Kibbe to personally own the rights to the book and any royalties from it, multiple sources familiar with the arrangement told POLITICO.
We can’t help but wonder if the fight over direction had something to do with the elevation of Tea Party activists and lawmakers. When asked why Armey quit so abruptly, Kibbe told told The Wall Street Journal, “I’ve been in this town long enough to see people come and see people go, and Dick decided he wanted to retire… That’s just the way Dick is.” We could be wrong, but that sounds like the tone someone who won in a fight.
And the original, from Mother Jones:
“The top management team of FreedomWorks was taking a direction I thought was unproductive, and I thought it was time to move on with my life,” Armey tells Mother Jones. “At this point, I don’t want to get into the details. I just want to go on with my life.”
In the email, Armey indicated that he wants nothing to do with FreedomWorks anymore. He asked that all user names, passwords, and security-related data created in his name be emailed to him by the close of business on December 4. He even insisted that FreedomWorks—”effective immediately”—was “prohibited” from using a booklet he authored. Was Armey’s resignation a reaction to the recent election results? “Obviously I was not happy with the election results,” he says. “We might’ve gotten better results if we had gone in a different direction. But it isn’t that I got my nose out of line because we should’ve done better.”
In the end: $8 million pay-off. Very un-Tea Party.
UPDATE: From Freedomworks spokeswoman Jacqueline Bodnar: “The contract you mentioned is between two private individuals, and is not a FreedomWorks contract. The $8 million is not donor money, and did not come from any branch of the FreedomWorks organization. If you could make that clear in your story to prevent anyone from being misled, I would really appreciate it.”