Dick Armey Breaks Up with His Tea Party Group Over Matters of Principle

Armey, who has led FreedomWorks, one of the most influential tea party groups, since 2004, resigned Monday in an email.
Tue December 4, 2012 10:00 pm
Associated Press

Former House majority leader Dick Armey has stepped down from the helm of FreedomWorks, a group credited with organizing the tea party.

David Corn and Andy Kroll of Mother Jones had the scoop late Monday afternoon, after obtaining Armey's resignation e-mail, which indicated the parting was not a friendly one.

In the letter, which can be read in full at Mother Jones , Armey demanded that FreedomWorks remove all instances of his name and photos from the organization's website, social media accounts, and marketing materials, and no longer use his pamphlet, "Hitting the Ground Running," during freshman orientation for congressmen.

"I request that FreedomWorks deliver the copy of my official congressional portrait to my home in Texas ," he wrote in closing. Zing.

So, why'd he resign? Corn and Kroll got in touch with him and tried to tease that out:

"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 told Mother Jones.

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."

Armey said his issues with FreedomWorks were "matters of principle. It's how you do business as opposed to what you do. But I don't want to be the guy to create problems." So, instead of creating problems, Armey's now "packing up his tea bags (and his freshman congressman orientation booklet "Hitting the Ground Running") and going home," Adam Martin quipped at Daily Intel .

Adam Brandon, FreedomWork's executive vice president, told CNN that Armey had indeed resigned. "Obviously the elections didn't go the way we wanted," Brandon said. "But we are focused on the learning the lessons on what we need to better heading into 2013."

Armey, who represented Texas in Congress from 1985 to 2003, joined Citizens for a Sound Economy upon leaving office, Corn and Kroll recounted. In 2004, that conservative organization splintered to become FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, and Armey became chairman of the former.

So, what did FreedomWorks accomplish under his leadership, according to Corn and Kroll? 

FreedomWorks, under Armey's leadership, was a key player in the rise of the tea party in 2010. The organization helped elect tea party favorites, including Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Reps. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.). Armey led the fight to eliminate Obamacare, emailing every Republican member of Congress after the 2010 elections with a strategy for gutting President Obama's signature health-care law. FreedomWorks has acted an connector between tea party groups around the country, organizing protests against Obamacare and expanding the ranks of the conservative movement. In 2010, Armey and Kibbe together published Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto .

FreedomWorks for America, the group's affiliated super PAC, spent more than $19 million this election cycle on campaigns, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. FreedomWorks for America outlines its mission on its website as being "focused on spearheading bottom-up grassroots campaigns on behalf of candidates who will promote economic freedom. Unlike other PACs and organizations, FreedomWorks for America will aggressively support candidates who will defend freedom, even in political primaries against establishment or incumbent Republicans."

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