The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The Bloody Mess at FreedomWorks

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?”



33 Responses to “The Bloody Mess at FreedomWorks”

  1. KingShamus
    December 26th, 2012 @ 8:51 am

    RT @smitty_one_each: TOM The Bloody Mess at FreedomWorks #TCOT

  2. smitty
    December 26th, 2012 @ 9:06 am

    Well, I certainly hope that this does not mean the whole FreedomWorks effort under Armey was just a cynical ploy for the Progressive GOP to leverage Tea Party enthusiasm without committing to actual reform.

    You wouldn’t want the base to get all discouraged, sit out an election, and wind up giving more power to people who despise our Constitution, or something.

    It would be terrible if Liberty-loving Americans glommed onto a theory that there wasn’t a lot of hope for change remaining, and instead started cutting their own deals moving forward.

    Thanks. Dick.

  3. dkmkc2000
    December 26th, 2012 @ 9:07 am

    RT @smitty_one_each: TOM The Bloody Mess at FreedomWorks #TCOT

  4. Paul H. Lemmen
    December 26th, 2012 @ 9:12 am

    Perhaps it is time for the GOP to go the way of it’s predecessor, the Whigs …

  5. smitty
    December 26th, 2012 @ 9:20 am

    If the GOP doesn’t go out like the Whigs, will there be hell toupée?

  6. Cube
    December 26th, 2012 @ 9:57 am

    I trust Mother Jones less than I do the national Democrats so how far from the truth is that report? How much of this is fact and how much is pushing the “destroy conservatives by any means necessary” agenda? Just asking some obvious questions here.

    Speaking of agendas and lack of trust, what else was the purpose of working the handgun into that article?

  7. robertstacymccain
    December 26th, 2012 @ 10:20 am

    See? For $8 million, the reclusive millionaires would not only get my random sarcasm, but also your dreadful puns as a bonus.

  8. mrbenz7
    December 26th, 2012 @ 10:44 am

    While Mother Jones is the last publication you want to trust if you are looking for facts, there is a lot going on in the Tea Party. I’m getting really tired of hearing that Gay Marriage will be the downfall of the country while we spend ourselves into oblivion with a Democrat president Narcissist at the wheel who should have run as a Corporatist instead! Our financial problems are our biggest critical issue that will level the economic field for all of us and have all living on the street regardless of political affiliation, sexual orientation or religion. As a Republican myself, I’m also a Tea Party member who is very dissapointed in both of these citizen oriented groups for their stand on social issues such as anti gay marriage while we have so many bigger problems to solve! I know many gay conservatives who sat the last election out in enough numbers to have produced different results. However, Democrats have nothing to offer us who are dissapointed in our own movement and no exodus into the Democrat party will happen!!! One thing is definite, our Corporatist in Chief has no respect whatsoever fir the middle class regardless of how hard he bleats “It’s all Republicans fault”, but I have no doubt their are plenty if liberal sheep who will believe Republicans are only in support of rich peopke while 7 of the 10 richest members of congress are Liberal Democrats making a ton of money on fomenting class warfarw….

  9. Paul H. Lemmen
    December 26th, 2012 @ 11:15 am

    I don’t think either of us has much room to pun … we have the same barber it seems …

  10. sheryl
    December 26th, 2012 @ 11:24 am

    The main problem with the tea party is the media and their portrayal of the grass roots group. The other issue is the media and the GOP elite together that assumed the ‘tea party’ was an extension of the republican party. I went to the hospital to visit a friend the other day and the nurses were talking about “tea party republicans” and their ruining of the country, especially in regard to the fiscal cliff. So, what I gather from that is they are following the narrative that has been provided.

    The stigma has worked, so the decision to lie low lately has been a good one in my opinion. The tea party was never intended to be the republican party, and the republican party went out of their way to attempt to distance themselves from it. I have been to many tea party rallies and meetings. Democrats attend those also, in large numbers. I have attended rallies with democrat party members who did not vote for Obama this time around. Fiscal sanity is an issue that most agree on. The tea party must now distance themselves from the GOP, and not seek their input. Find an excellent leader and explain our own narrative, in no uncertain terms. The GOP let us down big time on Obamacare, regardless of their lack of control in the senate. They wasted precious time instead of bringing in out in the open weekly and getting the senate to come onboard. The country hated it, counted on the GOP and they let us down. It really should have been their saving grace. The GOP is a complete waste of my time. There is nothing good that comes from it, they continue in their socialism lighter policies.

  11. sheryl
    December 26th, 2012 @ 11:25 am

    oops…sorry, I didn’t mean to write a novel.

  12. McGehee
    December 26th, 2012 @ 12:33 pm

    Other than that, I guess it’s a lesson in how quickly the Young Turks become the Old Guard

    I’m reminded of a song that came out some 40 years ago, maybe a tiny bit more, with lines like, “…and the beards have all grown longer overnight” and “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

    Truly a timeless classic.

  13. 1389AD
    December 26th, 2012 @ 12:37 pm

    Well, okay, I’ll write one:

    On account of the fact that the GOP has sold
    out completely AND massive and successful vote fraud is a given from now on AND the media is totally corrupt, there is only one way our side can win, and it involves secession, which will most likely involve all-out civil war.

    I personally have the stomach for it but I’m too old to live to see the end of it. I doubt than very many other people can stand the idea, but all of the other alternatives have been exhausted long since.

    The only other alternative, for those who plan to stay here, is a descent into totalitarianism.

  14. Quartermaster
    December 26th, 2012 @ 12:54 pm

    The secession did not have civil war, why should this round? The false label applied to the War of Northern Aggression does not make it a civil war. The South simply wanted to go its way and be left alone. The northeastern moneymen couldn’t tolerate a free trade zone to their south, and the reorganized Whigs couldn’t let their cash cow go (about 75% of the budget of FedGov came from tariffs out of South Carolina and Virginia).

  15. [email protected]
    December 26th, 2012 @ 12:57 pm

    Nah. Smitty made the mistake of using Nair instead of shampoo one day and still doesn’t realize his mistake. It’s that O-5 lobotomy.

  16. Quartermaster
    December 26th, 2012 @ 12:59 pm

    If $8 million ever showed up in you tip jar the blog would go silent, except for Smitty and Wombat. Once you blew it all you’d come crawling back saying the most important words in the English language, IYKWIMAITYD.

  17. Quartermaster
    December 26th, 2012 @ 1:01 pm

    The problem with Armey is he is part of the GOP establishment. FreedomWorks was simply the horse he was riding of late, and I do think he was trying to co-opt it for the GOP. I’m glad that didn’t work out.

    Like the rest of the establishment, he needs to go home and stay there.

  18. Adjoran
    December 26th, 2012 @ 1:22 pm

    Say, remember a couple of years ago when essentially the same type of power struggle happened at the Atlanta-based Tea Party Patriots? Tea Party America, Tea Party Express, Freedom Works, Tea Party Patriots – guess how many were elected by votes at Tea Party rallies? NONE of them.

    All are just private organizations which tried to grab onto the Tea Party mantle when it was hot – not for the benefit of the Tea Party, which has NO membership OR structure at all and has NEVER conferred any legitimacy on any of these groups – to expand the groups’ and their founders’ power and influence.


    Until you understand and accept that NONE of these so-called “Tea Party” groups have ANYTHING to do with the actual Tea Party movement, you will be forever flailing in the darkness of ignorance with the lunatic fringe and conspiracy nutters.

  19. 1389AD
    December 26th, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

    You are correct – the Southern secession was just as much a war of secession as was the secession from Great Britain in 1776.

    I simply meant to say that there will be warfare, and this time around, nukes may be involved.

    Totalitarian governments don’t like to let go.

  20. bet0001970
    December 26th, 2012 @ 1:44 pm

    Oh McCain…you are soooo easy.

  21. Paul H. Lemmen
    December 26th, 2012 @ 2:39 pm

    0-5? I didn’t realize that his level of incompetence was so high! (at least according to the Peter Principle!)

  22. BruceC
    December 26th, 2012 @ 2:46 pm

    OT: Does anybody think that there’s anything to this article? Or is it more Alex Jones style conspiracy theory? :

  23. Charles
    December 26th, 2012 @ 3:29 pm

    Richard J. Stephenson is the founder of Cancer Treatment Centers of America, although what that may have to do with the Tea Party cleaning up the Republican Party I will leave to your imagination.

  24. AnonymousDrivel
    December 26th, 2012 @ 3:43 pm

    That Venn diagram may not be optimal marketing, RSM. I’m supposed to hit the freakin’ tip jar again after such an insult?

    Good day, Sir.

    I said good day!

  25. JeffS
    December 26th, 2012 @ 4:15 pm

    There’s a reason why I am not a member of any of these groups. And you just stated it.

  26. Quartermaster
    December 26th, 2012 @ 5:21 pm

    This time around the Northeast is no longer a lot richer than the south and the population doesn’t want to put their own bodies on the line. A lot of people don’t realize that if southerners left the military because of secession, the military will be a shadow of itself. FedGov simply won’t have the resources to fight another war of conquest as in 1861-65.

    An even more important issue is the fact that a good many midwestern states are very likely to go as well. If secession happens again, and I think it’s going to, the left coast will be isolated from their eastern brothers.

  27. Quartermaster
    December 26th, 2012 @ 5:24 pm

    But, he ain’t even close to cheap.

  28. bet0001970
    December 27th, 2012 @ 12:39 am

    Yeah. I was gonna offer him a $100 to write a short article for me, but then I figured he’d just bid me up.

  29. TrogloPundit
    December 27th, 2012 @ 12:21 pm

    I’ll do it for half.

  30. I’ll do it for half! « The TrogloPundit
    December 27th, 2012 @ 8:00 pm

    […] Stacy McCain: […]

  31. Bob Belvedere
    December 29th, 2012 @ 6:31 pm

    February 2010 – a very astute [and handsome] blogger warns us that this is no American Man’s Armey:

  32. Tina Brown’s Mysterious Career: How Much Is That Zeitgeist in the Window? : The Other McCain
    January 2nd, 2013 @ 11:16 pm

    […] want to know why liberals dominate the media, I’d be willing to explain it to them for, say, $8 million or so. Category: Ace of Spades, JournalismComments JeffSIf they’re going to throw money away, […]

  33. The battle for FreedomWorks | Spotlight On Corruption
    January 7th, 2013 @ 12:57 am

    […] Jones, a left wing magazine, has been reporting on a feud at FreedomWorks between former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, the chairman of FreedomWorks,…. Kibbe and Armey co-wrote Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto in 2010. […]