12.24.12 4:31 PM ET
Meltdown at FreedomWorks
Now David Corn has got hold of memos giving Matt Kibbe's side of the Kibbe-Armey feud at FreedomWorks:
Shortly after receiving the December 12 letter, Kibbe wrote a memo outlining his beef with Armey, Burnley, and Gray. In the document—titled "Republican Insiders Attempt Hostile Takeover of FreedomWorks"—Kibbe accused the three of being shills for the Republican establishment and undercutting the group's standing as an independent, non-partisan, conservative organization. (FreedomWorks has at times endorsed tea party candidates in primary elections against mainstream or incumbent Republicans, drawing the ire of mainline Republicans.) Kibbe charged that the three men were trying to punish him for defying their effort to steer FreedomWorks into the conventional Republican fold. He contended that the divisive fight within FreedomWorks was not really about his book contract or other organizational matters; it was a grand ideological clash pitting those fully loyal to the tea party cause (such as Kibbe) against backroom, Washington-centric pols attempting to wield their influence to benefit their pals.
Noting Armey's habit of coining maxims—and Armey's complaint that Kibbe had hijacked media requests for Armey—Kibbe began his memo with a blast referencing a September 4 meeting at which Armey and Gray had voted Kibbe off the board of trustees and replaced him with Burnley, a secretary of transportation in the Reagan administration:
Our favorite "Armey's Axiom" goes something like this: "Every argument in Washington, like in a marriage, is really about something else." So it goes with the attempted hostile takeover of FreedomWorks by three Republican insiders from the old guard. Is it about a book contract, or a pilfered appearance on CNBC? No, it is not. 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. It is our sense that the irresponsible acts of the so-called Trustees of FreedomWorks—Dick Armey, C. Boyden Gray, and James C. Burnley—on September 4th, and their continued hostile acts today, are all about retribution for our willingness to take a strictly nonpartisan approach to politics, our willingness to hold both Republicans and Democrats to the standards set out by our freedom philosophy and the clear limits on government power delineated in our U.S. Constitution.
Kibbe then presented a timeline seeking to demonstrate that Armey, Gray, and Burnley had sold out the tea party cause to help less conservative Republicans.