On Thursday, Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks partnered with an anti-health reform group pushing to privatize Medicare to host a Republican rally outside the Capitol. Alongside speakers such as Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), Armey proclaimed, “Give me liberty or give me death. Well, Barack Obama is trying to make good on that.”
Speaking to reporters and ThinkProgress after the rally, Armey pretended that the upcoming 9/12 anti-Obama march on D.C. was entirely “grassroots,” and that his corporate-backed group only provided “consulting.” In fact, most of the groups paying for the rally are front groups and phony think tanks fully-funded by big business to create an image of public and academic support for their special interest agenda. One of the most visible organizations mobilizing the protest this Saturday is the Tea Party Patriots group. As Talking Points Memo has reported, the Tea Party Patriots’ listserv is managed by FreedomWorks staffer Tom Gaitens. Not only is the list managed by FreedomWorks, but Armey’s staffers have final say on decisions such as the logo for the event this Saturday. Tea Party Patriots does not even hide its close affiliation with corporate front groups, since it lists FreedomWorks as a coalition partner. The Tea Party Patriots listserv was used to distribute the infamous memo from a Tea Party Patriots volunteer detailing how town hall attendees should “rattle” Democrats by interrupting their events with coordinated yelling and shrieks.
When ThinkProgress asked Armey about this close relationship with the Tea Party Patriots, he erupted in rage. He also denied even knowing his own employee:
Q: Mr. Armey you said you have no affiliation with the Tea Party Patriots group that’s organizing this rally, but isn’t it true that your staff members manage the Tea Party Patriots list serv?
ARMEY: Absolutely not.
Q: So Tom Gaitens is not connected to your–
ARMEY: Who? First of all who is Tom Gaitens?
Armey proceeded to call the ThinkProgress reporter a “juvenile delinquent.” Armey has lashed out before at critical questions, attacking Joan Walsh, saying “I am so damn glad you can never be my wife ’cause I surely wouldn’t have to listen to that babble from you every day.”
Gaitens — who helped organize the very first pilot “tea party” protests in February and demanded that “folks … need to intimidate Congress” — is listed multiple times on the FreedomWorks’ website as the Florida Outreach Director for Armey. He has not only won awards from FreedomWorks, but he also helped organize a tea party this year where Armey was the main speaker.
Of course, Armey’s deception is the very basis on which FreedomWorks gins up support for its causes. FreedomWorks maintains several other domain addresses to promote tea party events. Last year, the Wall Street Journal exposed FreedomWorks for building “amateur-looking” websites to promote the lobbying interests of Armey.