In another interview concerning the circumstances of his departure from FreedomWorks in September, former House majority leader Dick Armey said this week he accepted an $8 million settlement from a board member of the organization because he “couldn’t leave with empty pockets.”
Armey’s sudden FreedomWorks exit — he was chairman of the tea party group until late summer — was the subject of a much-talked-about story in The Washington Post this week. The story described Armey’s failed coup attempt of the organization, during which, according to anonymous witnesses, he was accompanied by an aide with a gun holstered on one hip. On Wednesday, Armey spoke to Mother Jones and downplayed the drama described in the Post article, saying that the armed man was a former Capitol Hill police officer who has provided personal security services to Armey for years.
In his latest interview with ABC News, posted online Saturday and conducted, apparently, “as he was winding down his Wii Fit workout,” Armey spoke about the agreement he struck with Richard Stephenson, the FreedomWorks board member and millionaire founder of the for-profit Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
According to Armey, Stephenson stepped in with an offer to pay him $400,000 a year over 20 years because he “was concerned I was going to resign [from FreedomWorks] and sue them before the [presidential] election. He didn’t want an uproar. We all understood if I take any action that made it at all public it would be a press nightmare and we didn’t want that before the election.”
“So Dick was saying, ‘You know, Armey, my family and I have heard your story, about how you can’t afford to retire and we want to help with your retirement,’” Armey, who is 72, also said.
As part of the agreement, Armey said he will serve as a consultant to Stephenson.
“I can talk about economics because I am an economist,” Armey said. “I can talk about what’s going on on the Hill, in politics, who’s a winner, who’s a loser, things of that nature.”
Armey also touched on the nature of his disagreement with FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe. At the center of the dispute was Kibbe’s book “Hostile Takeover.” According to Armey, Kibbe tried to have him sign a document saying FreedomWorks resources were not used in creating the book, and FreedomWorks itself was “being used primarily at that time scheduling all kinds of things in the interest of establishing a reputation for Matt and selling his book.” Armey also took issue with an apparent effort to make Kibbe the face of the tea party movement.
“I must say the trespass against me was so comprehensive and so eroding of my critical asset — and my critical asset is my relationship with the press,” Armey told ABC News. “I actually had a court case, a case I could have taken and I did consider doing so, but we decided we wanted to try and handle it quietly outside of the press pursuant to the condition was I could not work with these guys anymore. You can’t take people who you indisputably understand to be dishonest and dangerous to the organization in their dishonesty and continue working with them.”
Read the whole thing here.
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com