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The Time Dick Armey Attempted an Armed Coup of Tea Party Group

Posted on Dec 26, 2012
Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Dick Armey.

New reports are surfacing that former FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey attempted a power grab of the tea party organization before he left it. According to The Washington Post, the former House majority leader staged the “coup” in September, bringing along his wife and an aide who had a handgun holstered at his waist into the group’s Capitol Hill office. The goal: oust Armey’s enemies and retake control of FreedomWorks.

The Washington Post:

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.

...FreedomWorks has been on a remarkable run in recent election cycles, growing its annual budget from $7 million to $40 million in just a few years and helping lead the tea party movement against Obama’s agenda. The group was among several that rose up last week in opposition to a failed proposal from House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to raise federal taxes on millionaires.

The group played a crucial role in ushering a wave of tea party candidates into office in recent years, staging rallies, hawking books and videos, and organizing media appearances with conservative personalities such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

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—Posted by Tracy Bloom.

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