Posted on | December 26, 2012 | 33 Comments
Memeorandum today features two stories on the ugliness:
FreedomWorks Feud: War Inside
Tea Party Group Gets Nastier
— David Corn, Mother Jones
FreedomWorks tea party group nearly falls
apart in fight between old and new guard
— Amy Gardner, Washington Post
The latter article tells this story:
The day after Labor Day, just as campaign season was entering its final frenzy, FreedomWorks, the Washington-based tea party organization, went into free fall.
Richard K. Armey, the group’s chairman and a former House majority leader, walked into the group’s Capitol Hill offices with his wife, Susan, and an aide holstering a handgun at his waist. The aim was to seize control of the group and expel Armey’s enemies: The gun-wielding assistant escorted FreedomWorks’ top two employees off the premises, while Armey suspended several others who broke down in sobs at the news.
The coup lasted all of six days. By Sept. 10, Armey was gone — with a promise of $8 million — and the five ousted employees were back. The force behind their return was Richard J. Stephenson, a reclusive Illinois millionaire who has exerted increasing control over one of Washington’s most influential conservative grass-roots organizations. . . .
The Mother Jones story quotes a memo that FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe wrote earlier this month, accusing Armey and Armey’s allies of having abandoned the Tea Party grassroots in favor of Republican Establishment insiders:
As it turns out, the fight for lower taxes, less government and more freedom is all well and good until it is Republicans — “old friends” — that are the ones needing to be held to account.
What’s the real deal here? I dunno, but this “reclusive millionaire” angle intrigues me. How does one get introduced to a reclusive millionaire?
Do reclusive millionaires read blogs? Because I’m thinking I could provide a lot of online content for $8 million.
Other than that, I guess it’s a lesson in how quickly the Young Turks become the Old Guard, and how dangerous it is to turn your back in D.C.
UPDATE: The shortage of reclusive millionaires among our blog readers reminds me of a fundamental problem I identified last year and explained in the form of a Venn diagram:
There is no intersection between Set A and Set B. Whatever is going on with the Important People Who Really Matter — and certainly reclusive millionaires fit that description — they’re definitely not reading this blog, because I sure as heck haven’t seen $8 million in the tip jar.
UPDATE II: Matt Welch at Reason remarks:
I know Dick Armey, am friends with Matt Kibbe, and have zero insight into the conflict, other than knowing through experience that the way these things look from the outside are often deceiving, particularly when viewed through the lens of a mainstream media instinctively allergic to billionaire non-Democratic political donors.
Meanwhile, I continue exploring the most important question raised by this controversy: “What’s in it for me?”
For $8 million, I could write a book, “Reclusive Millionaires Are Sexy” theothermccain.com/2012/12/26/the… Just sayin’ …
— Robert Stacy McCain (@rsmccain) December 26, 2012