Former Rep. Dick Armey, the battle-scarred majority leader who served under Newt Gingrich, has left the chairman's role at FreedomWorks, one of the first tea party type groups to advocate the principles of individual liberty. Armey said he was leaving because of "serious concerns about the ethical and moral behavior of the senior leadership."
Armey served in Congress from 1985 to 2003 and was known for his brash and outspoken style, especially after Republicans took control of the House in 1994. However, his departure from FreedomWorks with an $8 million parachute has brought an unwanted spotlight on the politically powerful organization.
"I left there because I had serious concerns about the ethical and moral behavior of the senior leadership," Armey said on Fox Business Network's Cavuto on Wednesday. "I don't particularly want to discuss that at length. I think it will be resolved. I am consoled by my certain knowledge that time wounds all heals."
In an article published in Politico on Tuesday, sources confirmed that tensions between Armey and the group's president, Matt Kibbe, reached a boiling point over a deal Kibbe apparently struck for himself with Harper Collins for the book Hostile Takeover: Resisting Centralized Government's Stranglehold on America.
Unlike previous books where FreedomWorks staff was involved in the research, writing and promotion of the book, Kibbe asked Armey and other board members to sign a memo stating that the organization had no involvement in the project, clearing the way for Kibbe to reap all of the book's profits.
"What bothered me most about that was that he was asking me to lie, and it was a lie that I thought brought the organization in harm's way," said Armey of Kibbe's request.
When the issue came to a head in an August meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Kibbe and executive VP Adam Brandon were put on administrative leave for a while. Meanwhile, Kibbe said the increased tension was due to "competing visions for what FreedomWorks should become."
Organized in 1984, FreedomWorks gained increased notoriety and influence when they affiliated themselves with the tea party movement prior to the 2010 mid-term elections when the GOP recaptured the House of Representatives.
The group has seen a number of key staff departures as of late. However, none were willing to speak on the record about the organization or rift between Kibbe and Armey.
Armey's deal apparently will be 20 annual installments of $400,000 payments to be paid by fellow board member Richard Stephenson, who is also the founder of the private Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
Armey also has issues with the current House leadership over how they are handling the recent budget issue and why House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) punished several Republican legislators over their support of tea party policies.
Armey calls Boehner's reluctance to embrace the tea party a "mistake."
"I understand the speaker being annoyed when he has people within his caucus that are so committed to a set of principles that they make it hard for him to make easy deals with the other side, but I would also remind him people are not going to forsake their principles for something that is as insignificant in their life as a committee assignment," Armey said on Fox News.
"So if he thinks this is a party discipline he can impose on people of principle, he is sadly mistaken and he ought to know that from his own experience in a younger time in his service in Congress when he was himself the outsider."
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