First of all: Kudos to Mother Jones for breaking the news that Dick Armey was leaving his chairman role at FreedomWorks, the proto-Tea Party group he basically created in the mid-Aughts. They got Armey on record saying “the top management team of FreedomWorks was taking a direction I thought was unproductive.” Having covered FreedomWorks pretty regularly since 2008, I am duly shamed, and ready for my time in the detention center. It’s tough to image the FreedomWorks offices without Armey’s official congressional portrait and related swag.
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.This deal was struck six weeks before the election, and nothing leaked. FreedomWorks PAC guru Max Pappas and state campaigns director Brendan Steinhauser, both Armey allies, knew there was an exit ramp coming, and they worked the election anyway. The “FreePAC” mega-ralllies in swing states and the “black and white” tour (black conservative Dineen Borelli teaming up with FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe) continued. Neither of these tactics had much of an electoral impact. Reading between the lines, that might have been what Armey was talking about.