Dick Armey

The plot thickens in the Tea Party Civil War. Apparently Dick Armey did not go quietly into that good night. In fact, he first tried to muscle his opponents out:

The day after Labor Day, just as campaign season was entering its final frenzy, FreedomWorks, the Washington-based tea party organization, went into free fall.

Richard K. Armey, the group’s chairman and a former House majority leader, walked into the group’s Capitol Hill offices with his wife, Susan, and an aide holstering a handgun at his waist. The aim was to seize control of the group and expel Armey’s enemies: 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.

Dick disputes the account in an interview with Mother Jones:

“He was well-known to the people at FreedomWorks,” Armey says. “He has provided me personal security on many occasions when I was in Washington.” Singleton also oversaw security for FreedomWorks in September 2009 when it organized a large rally in Washington. Singleton, Armey says, is authorized to carry a gun, but he does so in a back holster that cannot be seen by an onlooker. “I was unaware he had a gun [at the meeting],” Armey maintains. “He 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.”

Armey says that his wife, Susan, and his assistant, Jean Campbell, were concerned about a FreedomWorks official losing his temper at this meeting and suggested that Singleton join Armey and the two of them on this trip to the group’s office.

Yes, people might become emotional when you march into their office with a gunman and demand that they leave and never come back.

But remember everyone, the Tea Party is about freedom and the Constitution – though I must have missed the section where if you don’t get everything you want you can launch an armed coup. Maybe Dick was reading another manual on government, it was also little enough to wave at people.