Skip to comments.Armey Leaves DLA Piper Amid Furor Over Health Care Reform
Posted on 08/15/2009 9:32:14 PM PDT by stan_sipple
Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey has resigned from DLA Piper, saying a firestorm over his ties to a conservative nonprofit opposed to health care reform has hurt the firm.
In an interview, John Merrigan, a DLA Piper partner who chairs the federal affairs practice, said Armey, who had been a senior policy adviser, made the decision to leave. The nonprofit group, FreedomWorks, has been associated with disruptive protests at town hall meetings on health care reform.
Armey's association with FreedomWorks, and his ties to DLA Piper, have been repeatedly raised on liberal blogs and by left-leaning commentators. For instance, ThinkProgress, a blog run by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, reported that "Armey's FreedomWorks is actively organizing against health care reform. Indeed, Armey's lobbying firm represents pharmaceutical companies, such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, that oppose comparative effectiveness research in the health reform plan because such a program may cut into revenue for branded drugs."
Merrigan said Armey has never lobbied on health care reform for the firm, and "our firm represents clients in support of health care reform."
With the issue building last week, the firm sent out an internal e-mail about the controversy to all U.S. lawyers and staff. The e-mail said:
"Recently several media commentators have suggested that DLA Piper may be opposing health care reform. Some of the reports have gone so far as to suggest that the firm itself, or on behalf of its clients, may be supporting activities to disrupt the national debate on health care reform. All of these suggestions are entirely false. The firm has not, on its own behalf, or on the behalf of any client, directly or indirectly opposed any activities designed to disrupt the national debate about health care reform or any other public policy issues. On the contrary, DLA Piper represents clients who support enactment of effective health care reform this year and encourages responsible national debate. We have contacted news outlets to set the record straight and urge correction of the inaccurate reports."
Merrigan confirmed that he is the person who spoke with Armey about the situation, and Armey offered his resignation on Thursday. The decision wasnt finalized until Friday.
Merrigan wouldn't discuss other details of the firm's discussions with Armey regarding his resignation, saying only that the firm had "offered Dick Armey the option to stay in the firm if he concluded that was the correct option. He concluded it wasn't."
Merrigan wouldn't comment on whether Armey was told he would have to leave FreedomWorks, or whether there were any conditions attached to his remaining at the firm.
"Leader Armey recognized that these allegations weren't going to desist, and so he made the election that he'd rather go fight the fight with FreedomWorks and not subject the firm and the clients to inaccurate statements," Merrigan said, though he wouldn't specify which statements he was referring to as inaccurate.
Merrigan said Armey departed the firm Friday, and has no continuing financial arrangement with DLA Piper.
In a statement to Politico, which first reported on his resignation, Armey called leaving the firm "a sacrifice I must make in light of the important work I am committed to at FreedomWorks." and said it was painful to see the firm under attack because of its association with him.
Armey said he resigned from DLA Piper because "I could see that this fight was bringing innocent people in harm's way."
In an interview with The National Law Journal on Friday evening on his way to give the keynote speech at an Atlanta rally against Democratic health care plans, Armey said he had been growing increasingly concerned by commentators who linked his campaign through nonprofit FreedomWorks to his work at DLA Piper. The backlash was also landing on clients, including health care and pharmaceutical companies such as The Medicines Co., which paid DLA Piper $240,000 in lobbying fees during the second quarter of 2009.
His plans to speak at the rally also forced the timing of the decision, he said.
"Quite frankly, even with me being relatively quiet sitting in Texas, the firm and a few of the clients were taking a load of guff," Armey said. "What was going to happen when I show up in Atlanta tomorrow?"
Armey said he began growing increasingly concerned with the comments linking his political work with DLA Piper last week.
"I said to John [Merrigan], 'I'm going to have to come to town and we'll sit down and review some options.'"
Armey came to Washington on Thursday, and met with Merrigan. He said he decided that the best option was a clean break from the firm that would "resolve anyone's confusion," and confirm that the firm was entirely separate from FreedomWorks. Armey said he received severance from the firm upon resigning.
"They're generous people and they're kind," he said of his DLA Piper colleagues. "The firm understood my need, too, to be who I am."
Armey said he spent part of Friday going over the wording of the announcement.
"How can we possibly inform the world of my decision to leave the firm without it being misrepresented and mischaracterized?" he said. Armey said he also spoke to some clients to whom he felt especially close, though he did not name them.
Armey repeatedly stressed that FreedomWorks is entirely separate from his work at DLA Piper, and said he was frustrated when commentators associated the two, though he declined to name any specifically. He also said that no one at the firm pressured him to leave.
"No client asked me to leave, nor did any client ask the firm to have me leave," he said.
Armey was a registered lobbyist for the Recording Industry Association of America, the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration and others while at DLA Piper.
Asked if he would return to DLA Piper, or to a law or lobbying firm, at some point, Armey said: "At this point in my life I need to stay focused on this. ... I talked to Susan, my wife, about it. We always decide things together. We're lending our full focus to this fight. We'll consider other things when we feel like we've moved this fight to some degree of conclusion."
When Dick Armey joined the ACLU.......along with Bob Barr......my respect meter dug a hole to China. Although I’m not sure how long he was there or when he joined this firm.....but if he has a voice more power to him. But anyone who would work at the ACLU......an organization that defends NAMBLA and the molestation of children........well no more words are needed....except....he’ll cave like a crying baby when the rubber hits the road.
Dick Armey’s Freedom Works is also a PROPONENT of “comprehensive immigration reform”, favoring the position of Bush/McCain/Palin ,etc.’s “path to citizenship” for illegal aliens = AMNESTY.