Kibbe disputed that Armey resigned over the book.
“That had virtually nothing to do with it,” Kibbe told TheDC. “I think there were just two very different visions about where FreedomWorks was headed.”
He also denied that staffers were leaving because of “this dispute over the direction of FreedomWorks.”
“We also have over 50 people on our staff and you’re bound to get a certain percentage of turnover at any given time,” he said. “That’s how this town works and we’re no exception to that.”
According to sources, the tension between Armey and Kibbe reached an all-time high over the book. But Armey had other complaints as well: he suspected that FreedomWorks press staffers were bumping him from TV appearances so they could book Kibbe instead. He also thought staff were having to choose between being loyal to Kibbe or loyal to FreedomWorks, and those choosing Kibbe were given preferential treatment.
When it became clear that Armey wanted out of FreedomWorks, Dick Stephenson, one of Armey’s longtime friends who is also on the FreedomWorks board — stepped in to convince him to wait until after the election to call it quits.
It was feared that the press would have a field day with his resignation, potentially hurting tea party prospects at the polls, sources said.
Armey then secretly signed a consulting contract with Stephenson — the Associated Press revealed on Tuesday — worth $8 million in $400,000 annual installments, under the condition he wouldn’t leave FreedomWorks until after the election.
“The question of the timeline was a matter of anxiety over the election, not wanting to upset the applecart before the elections,” Armey told TheDC on Tuesday.
Referencing news reports suggesting otherwise, Armey emphasized that the money isn’t coming from the FreedomWorks coffers.
“I can tell you that any agreement I had with Dick Stephenson in no way was an agreement between me and FreedomWorks,” he said.
Armey resigned in an email to Kibbe on Friday. It stayed quiet until Mother Jones, a liberal outfit known for being critical of conservatives and tea partiers, broke the news.
On Monday, hours before the story broke, there were no signs of turmoil as Kibbe held a press availability for 100 local tea partiers that convened at the group’s Capitol Hill offices for a weekend conference.
Standing on a platform and surrounded by the activists, Kibbe declared: “I think there’s more energy in this movement today than there was Nov. 6.”
Several feet away from the platform was a box of books titled, “Hostile Takeover.”