Ex-House leader Armey leaves Tea Party group for $8M
WASHINGTON — Eased out with an $8 million payout provided by an influential Republican fundraiser, former GOP House Majority Leader Dick Armey says he has left the conservative Tea Party group FreedomWorks because of an internal split over the group's direction.
A confidential contract obtained by The Associated Press shows that Armey agreed in September to resign from his role as chairman of Washington-based FreedomWorks in exchange for $8 million in consulting fees paid in annual $400,000 installments. Dated Sept. 24, the contract specifies that Armey would resign his position at both FreedomWorks and its sister organization, the FreedomWorks Foundation, by the end of November.
According to the contract, Armey's consulting fees will be paid by Richard J. Stephenson, a prominent fundraiser and founder and chairman of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, a national cancer treatment network. Stephenson is on the board of directors of FreedomWorks.
Armey's exit is as a new sign of acrimony in conservative and Republican ranks as the party's bruised leadership struggles with the Nov. 6 presidential losses and uncertainty over how to recast GOP principles and issues to compete with an ascendant Democratic Party.
On Tuesday, the former House leader from Texas confirmed his departure, telling the AP that “my differences with FreedomWorks are a matter of principle.” Armey said he made the decision to quit FreedomWorks in August, but Stephenson and other board members urged him not to leave until after the presidential election. Stephenson did not immediately respond to calls from AP for comment.
The former congressman would not describe his specific concerns, but he told Mother Jones magazine that the Tea Party group is moving in an unproductive direction. He indicated dissatisfaction with the election results, in which several GOP candidates supported by FreedomWorks Super PAC donations were defeated.