Republican Dumps His Tea! Ex-GOP House Leader Leaves Tea Party Group

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In an internal Nov. 30 resignation memo published by Mother Jones, Armey told FreedomWorks CEO Matt Kibbe to remove his “name, image and signature” from all of the group’s materials and web operations. Kibbe and other FreedomWorks officials were not immediately available for comment.

Armey, who had been with the Tea Party group since its 2004 founding, is a veteran Texas GOP political figure who was intimately involved in the GOP’s conservative “Contract with America” congressional movement in the 1990s. While Armey, 72, was the group’s eminence and at first, its public face, the younger Kibbe has been its most active official, appearing at FreedomWorks’ public gatherings.

FreedomWorks flourished after a wave of Tea Party House candidates swept into office in 2010, but despite spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to back favored GOP candidates in November, the group’s influence appeared to wane at the polls. Among the GOP losers supported by FreedomWorks in November were Senate candidates Josh Mandel in Ohio, Connie Mack in Florida and Richard Mourdock in Indiana.

Overall, Tea Party-influenced House legislators fared better in the recent elections, though their ranks thinned. At least 83 of 87 Republican House members who were allied with Tea Party anti-government spending causes ran for re-election in November, and all but eleven were returned to office. A twelfth – Rep. Jeff Landry, R-La., faces an uphill runoff election this month against another GOP incumbent.

FreedomWorks’ internal secrecy and its role as a high-financed super political action committee became an issue in the weeks before the election when federal campaign finance documents revealed that a shadowy Tennessee-based corporation had funneled seven donations totaling $5.28 million to the Tea Party group. The amount was the largest political contribution to a super PAC in 2012 from a business group that would not identify its donor.

FreedomWorks would not identify the anonymous donor, and a Tennessee lawyer who helped set up the group would also not divulge the head of the firm, Specialty Group Inc. The Tennessee firm later changed its name to Specialty Investments Group Inc. on Nov. 28.

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