Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), who abruptly resigned as head of Tea Party group FreedomWorks, brought in an assistant with a gun in an apparent coup attempt at the group, according to a report in the Washington Post.
On Sept. 4, the assistant escorted out Matt Kibbe, president and CEO, and Adam Brandon, the senior vice president, accusing them of ethical misconduct. Others were put on administrative leave, but the Washington Post report says that when they started crying, they got their jobs back.
The report is the latest account of a breakdown of the influential conservative organization that has financially backed the Tea Party movement.
Armey, in exchange for resigning, will receive $8 million from the group -- paid out in annual $400,000 installments -- for consulting fees. Mother Jones obtained his departure memo, in which he specified that he wanted his name removed from all of the group's materials and asked them not to use his booklet.
Kibbe accused Armey of backing traditional Republicans over Tea Party candidates, according to a Mother Jones report. Though the group endorsed Rep. David Schweikert over Rep. Dan Quayle in a GOP member-vs.-member primary in Arizona, C. Boyden Gray, an Armey ally, sent donations to Quayle.
Like other conservative groups such as Karl Rove-organized American Crossroads, FreedmWorks generally fared badly in 2012 congressional races. Its affiliated super PAC that spent more $19 million failed to win Senate races in Indiana, Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania, while the $1.8 million it spent to defeat Tammy Duckworth against Tea Party Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) also failed. In the coming second term of President Barack Obama, the group faces questions over what exactly it will do next.
UPDATE [5:59 p.m. ET]: In an interview with Mother Jones, Armey played down the severity of the incident and identified the man with the gun. Armey said that the gun-toting man was Beau Singleton, a former Capitol Hill police officer.
David Corn, reporting for MJ, writes that Singleton "used to be part of Armey's congressional security detail" and "has volunteered his security services to Armey and FreedomWorks for years." Armey explained that Singleton "was well-known to the people at FreedomWorks."
Armey claims to have been "unaware" that Singleton had a gun at the meeting. "[Singleton] kept it under his coat in the back....But the news looks like Armey came in there like John Dillinger, all guns a-blazing. That was false," explained the former FreedomWorks chairman.
Singleton also disputes the Washington Post's description of the incident:
Singleton, 56, confirms Armey's account. He says that he has known Kibbe and Brandon for years and that he had often "been around" at FreedomWorks. He adds that during the meeting between Armey and Kibbe, he "just observed. I was just kind of there....I can't see why they would act like I was menacing." In the Post's account, the unnamed gunman escorted Kibbe and Brandon off the premises, but Singleton says he did no such thing. "Whatever problem they had with FreedomWorks, I had no issues with them....I was not used to get them out of the office."
More details from Mother Jones can be found here.
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