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Dick Armey

In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2003
Speaker Newt Gingrich
Dennis Hastert
Whip Tom DeLay
Preceded by Dick Gephardt
Succeeded by Tom DeLay

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 26th district
In office
January 3, 1985 – January 3, 2003
Preceded by Tom Vandergriff
Succeeded by Michael C. Burgess

Born July 7, 1940 (1940-07-07) (age 69)
Cando, North Dakota
Political party Republican
Profession Economist

Richard Keith "Dick" Armey (born July 7, 1940 in Cando, North Dakota) is a former U.S. Representative from Texas's 26th congressional district (1985–2003) and House Majority Leader (1995–2003). He was one of the engineers of the "Republican Revolution" of the 1990s, in which Republicans were elected to majorities of both houses of Congress for the first time in four decades. Armey was one of the chief authors of the Contract with America. Armey is also an author and former professor. After his congressional career he worked as a consultant and advisor.


Early life

Armey grew up in rural North Dakota, living in the farming town of Cando. He graduated from Jamestown College and then received a master's degree from the University of North Dakota and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Oklahoma. Armey is a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.[1]

From academia to Congress

Armey was an economics professor at North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas) in Denton and was first elected to the House in 1984 in the 26th District of Texas, defeating freshman congressman Tom Vandergriff in what is still considered a huge upset (Vandergriff is well-known in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, most notably for bringing Major League Baseball's Texas Rangers to the area). Armey was one of six freshmen Republican Party congressmen elected from Texas in 1984 that were known as the Texas Six Pack. Due to the increasingly Republican tilt of the Metroplex, Armey would never face another tough race and was reelected eight times.

Congressional career

During his time in Congress, Armey conceived the independent nonpolitical commission that became responsible for identifying those military bases to be closed as a cost-cutting measure. Armey was one of Congress's fervent supporters of privatization of Social Security and phasing-out of farm subsidies. He is a strong supporter of replacing the progressive tax levels and a complex system of deductions with a simplified single rate known as a flat tax. Armey is very critical of a competing tax reform proposal that would replace the current system with a national sales tax, the FairTax.

In 1989 he wrote a letter to the National Endowment for the Arts about the grants for Andres Serrano and Robert Mapplethorpe, calling their work "morally reprehensible trash."[2]

In 1994, Armey, then House Republican Conference Chairman, joined Minority Whip Newt Gingrich in drafting the Contract with America. Republican members credited this election platform with the Republican takeover of Congress, rewarding Gingrich with the position of Speaker and Armey with the number two position of House Majority Leader. Gingrich delegated to Armey an unprecedented level of authority over scheduling legislation on the House floor, a power traditionally reserved to the Speaker. Armey has been accused of being involved in a 1997 attempt to oust Gingrich as Speaker,[3] something Armey has strongly denied. In 1995 Armey referred to openly homosexual Congressman Barney Frank, as "Barney Fag". Armey said it was a slip of the tongue.[4]


In 1995 Armey also wrote a book, Freedom Revolution (ISBN 0-89526-469-2).

In 1996, Armey wrote another book, The Flat Tax: A Citizen's Guide to the Facts on What It Will Do for You, Your Country, and Your Pocketbook, published by Ballantine.

Lewinsky scandal and infighting

In 1998, during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, a reporter asked him what he would do if he were in President Bill Clinton's position. He replied "If I were in the President's place I would not have gotten a chance to resign. I would be lying in a pool of my own blood, hearing Mrs. Armey standing over me saying, 'How do I reload this damn thing?'"[5] Several of his former female economics students went public with stories of his sexually harassing them — harassment allegedly so severe that at least one student transferred to another school. He would later divorce his wife and marry one of his students.[6] That same year, after Gingrich was forced to resign from the House after heavy Republican losses in the midterm elections, Armey had to fend off a bruising challenge for his majority leader post from Steve Largent of Oklahoma.

Armey served another four years before announcing his retirement in 2002. In his last legislative effort, he was named chairman of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security and was the primary sponsor of the legislation that created the Department of Homeland Security.

According to Armey, he also sparred with Focus on the Family leader James Dobson while in office. Armey wrote, "As Majority Leader, I remember vividly a meeting with the House leadership where Dobson scolded us for having failed to 'deliver' for Christian conservatives, that we owed our majority to him, and that he had the power to take our jobs back. This offended me, and I told him so." Armey states that Focus on the Family targeted him politically after the incident, writing, "Focus on the Family deliberately perpetuates the lie that I am a consultant to the ACLU."[7]

As a free-market economist influenced by the ideas of Milton Friedman, Armey favored relatively open immigration and the elimination of barriers to the movement of goods and people across national boundaries.

After Armey's retirement, fellow Texan and Republican Tom DeLay, then House Majority Whip, was elevated to Armey's Majority Leader position. Armey's son, Scott, ran for his father's seat in the 2002 election, but lost in the Republican Party (GOP) runoff to Michael C. Burgess, who would go on to hold the strongly Republican 26th District for the GOP in November.

After Congress

At the start of 2003, Armey joined the Washington office of the law firm DLA Piper (formerly DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary) as a senior policy advisor.[8] Armey is also the firm's co-chairman of its Homeland Security Task Force.[9]

In 2003, Armey became co-chairman of Citizens for A Sound Economy, which in 2004 merged with Empower America to become FreedomWorks. "FreedomWorks" is a common Armey saying and the organization is dedicated to advancing a "Freedom Agenda" of "lower taxes, less government, and more freedom." FreedomWorks states that it has 700,000 members nationwide and full time staff in 10 states. In his role as Chairman, Armey continues to be a national political figure and grassroots leader. He travels widely, meeting with activists and legislators. In 2005, for example, he testified before the President's Advisory Panel on Tax Reform and debated Governor of Colorado Bill Owens on a tax increase ballot measure.

In 2003, Armey published Armey's Axioms.

In 2006, Michael Isikoff's book Hubris included Armey as an on-the-record source, who said he was initially reluctant to support the Bush administration's call for war with Iraq, and that he had warned President George W. Bush that such a war might be a "quagmire". Armey said that the intelligence presented to him in support of the war appeared questionable, but he gave Bush the benefit of the doubt.

In August 2009 Armey was asked to step down from his lobbying position at DLA Piper, which was doing lobbying work for the pharmaceutical industry to pass health care reform legislation. Armey was simultaneously chairing the conservative group FreedomWorks which was actively working to defeat health care reform by encouraging and organizing high conservative turnouts at congressional and senatorial town hall meetings. DLA Piper was concerned about the conflict of interest particularly since their clients were spending millions in advertising and lobbying money to support the passage of health care reform and FreedomWorks was linked to demonstrations at town hall forums where health care reform was being discussed.[10]

Tensions with Dick Cheney

According to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Barton Gellman, former Vice President Dick Cheney told Armey that Saddam Hussein's family had direct ties to Al-Qaeda and that Saddam was developing miniature nuclear weapons. Armey then voted for the Iraq War, but after it became clear this was not true, stated that he "deserved better than to be bullshitted by the Vice President."[11]

Robert Draper's Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush recounts a conversation in late summer 2002 between Armey and Cheney. Armey insisted that American forces would get "mired down" in Iraq if they invaded, but Cheney offered this assurance: "They're going to welcome us. It'll be like the American army going through the streets of Paris. They're sitting there ready to form a new government. The people will be so happy with their freedoms that we'll probably back ourselves out of there within a month or two."[12]

Alleged role in organized disruptions of August 2009 town hall meetings on health care reform

In 2009, FreedomWorks launched a campaign against health care reform proposals, accusing the Obama administration of attempting to "socialize medicine".[13] Referencing a piece entitled "On Private Conference Call, Tea Party Organizers Say No Reform At All is Goal" on Greg Sargent's liberal blog The Plum Line, [14] Rachel Maddow argued in her investigative report entitled "TRMS Investigates FreedomWorks" [15] that the right's strategy was to disrupt and shut down the August 2009 town hall congressional meetings on health care reform[15] by “scaring real Americans with increasingly paranoid and kooky lies about health care and then providing a script for how to express that fear.”[16] At many of the town halls Democratic "members of Congress have been shouted down, hanged in effigy and taunted by crowds" [17] in an apparent organized effort to rattle the congresspeople presiding over the meetings rather than to seek a compromise solution to health care reform.

The phone conversation cited by Sargent in "On Private Conference Call . . ." was moderated by The Tea Party Patriots, a national co-partner of Dick Armey's FreedomWorks, according to FreedomWorks itself. The Tea Party Patriots website later called for Patriots to begin making calls to melt Congress' phone lines and to weigh in on the health care debate actively, aggressively, and with big numbers. [18] In addition to being the chair of FreedomWorks, Dick Armey was a senior policy adviser for DC-based lobbying firm DLA Piper, whose recent and/or current clients include "pharmaceutical maker Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, ... health care provider Metropolitan Health Networks, and the pharmaceutical firm Medicines Company," [15] all entities that might benefit financially from seeing health care reform defeated. Dick Armey's concurrent posts with both FreedomWorks and DLA Piper became particularly controversial in light of the $1,290,000 DLA Piper received in 2009 from the pharmaceutical company Medicines Co.[19] In the report cited above, Maddow also cited the example of The American Council of Life Insurers, which paid DLA Piper $100,000 shortly before FreedomWorks lobbied to deregulate life insurance, as one instance of a possible conflict of interest involving Armey and the two organizations.

Addressing DLA Piper's role in the situation, chairman Francis Burch said “…DLA Piper represents clients who support enactment of effective health care reform this year and encourages responsible national debate." [20][21] Amid what Politico called "the health care flap", on August 14 2009, DLA Piper asked Armey to resign, and he left the firm.[22]


  1. ^ "Prominent Pikes". Retrieved 2009-09-13. 
  2. ^ Margaret Quigley. "The Mapplethorpe Censorship Controversy". The Public Eye. Political Research Associates. Retrieved March 2, 2009. 
  3. ^ "Newt Gingrich: House Ethics Case". 1997-07-22. Retrieved 2009-09-13. 
  4. ^ Frank Rich, New York Times, 1995-2-2
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Glass Houses: Shocking Profiles of Congressional Sex Scandals and Other Unofficial Misconduct (9780312971021): Stanley G. Hilton, Anne-Renee Testa: Books". Retrieved 2009-09-13. 
  7. ^ Dobson, James (2006-10-31). "Mr. Armey, You've Become a Bitter Man". Fox News Channel.,2933,226522,00.html. Retrieved 2009-05-26. 
  8. ^ Noah, Timothy (2003-01-08). "Who is Dick Armey kidding? - By Timothy Noah - Slate Magazine". Retrieved 2009-09-13. 
  9. ^ DLA Piper | Our People | Richard K. Armey
  10. ^ Kirkpatrick, David D. (2009-08-14). "Former Congressional Leader Departs Lobbying Firm - Prescriptions Blog -". Retrieved 2009-09-13. 
  11. ^ David Edwards, Muriel Kane (2008-09-16). "Author: Dick Armey livid Cheney 'bullshitted' him about Iraq 'mini-nuke'". the raw story. Retrieved 2009-01-28. 
  12. ^ Draper, Robert. Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush. p.178, New York, 2007, ISBN 0-7432-7729-5
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ a b c
  16. ^ Politico, Armey leaves firm amid health care flap, Aug 14 2009
  17. ^ New York Times, August 7, 2009, Beyond Beltway, Health Debate Turns Hostile
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ Politico, Armey leaves firm amid health care flap, August 9 2009
  21. ^ Legal Times blog, Armey Leaves DLA Piper, August 14 2009
  22. ^ Politico, Armey leaves firm amid health care flap, August 9 2009

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Tom Vandergriff
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 26th congressional district

Succeeded by
Michael C. Burgess
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jerry Lewis
Chairman of House Republican Conference
Succeeded by
John Boehner
Preceded by
Dick Gephardt
House Majority Leader
Succeeded by
Tom DeLay


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Dick Armey, official 105th Congress photo.jpg

Richard Keith "Dick" Armey (born July 7, 1940, in Cando, North Dakota) is a former U.S. Representative from Texas's 26,26th congressional district, (19852003) and House Majority Leader (19952003). He was one of the architects of the "Republican Revolution" of the 1990s, in which Republicans were elected to majorities of both houses of Congress for the first time in four decades, and the chief author of the Republican Contract with America.


  • America’s Christian conservative movement is confronted with this divide: small-government advocates who want to practice their faith independent of heavy-handed government versus big-government sympathizers who want to impose their version of 'righteousness' on others through the hammer of law.... Our movement must avoid the temptations of power and those who would twist the good intentions of Christian voters to support policies that undermine freedom and grow government.


  • I've been to Europe once. I don't have to go again.
  • If my expectations of civility and collegiality were disappointed, what do you think it was like for the rest of the congressmen they dealt with? The Bush White House was tone-deaf to the normal courtesies of the office.
  • Bipartisanship is another name for date rape.

External links

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