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 wasn’t finalized until Friday.