Heritage President DeMint being pushed out?

Politico is reporting that several sources on the board of the Heritage Foundation are saying there is an organized effort to dump the organization's president, Jim DeMint.  DeMint, who has a close relationship with the Trump White House, is accused of being "too political" and corrupting the foundation's historic mission of research and policy formulation.

There's also a sense that he's made the institution too much about himself. "He has been a congressman and senator. They are solo performers. When you are in the Senate, life is all about the senators," said one board member, who asked for anonymity to speak candidly about DeMint's situation. "CEO skills are different than senator skills. I think it boils down to attributes. I don't think it is particularly personal."

DeMint has been in contract negotiations, which are expected to be cut short, the sources said. An announcement about his future at Heritage is expected to come within the next few days. His contract is up at the end of 2017, according to one board member.

A handful of Heritage staffers close to DeMint, who came over from the Senate with him, are also expected to leave the think tank in what two sources called a "purge."

A GOP operative who works closely with Heritage said DeMint's removal as president was imminent and that more changes are expected to follow. "There's massive turmoil over there right now," the operative said.

Sources described what amounted to a feud between the leadership of the think tank, on the one hand, and its political-action arm, on the other.

Heritage Action, despite its reputation as the uncompromising ideological enforcer, had in recent months been working to soften its sharp edges – and even to reach out to Democrats.

"Some folks perceived that the c3 side was not going along with that, that they were being a little more bombastic or less willing to deal with anyone except the most pure conservatives," said a source familiar with the situation.

The tension came to a head at the organization's annual leadership meeting last weekend in San Diego, where the frustration of donors and board members with DeMint's hardline posture reached a boiling point. The organization's approach to Obamacare repeal was a particular point of contention. Though Heritage Action opposed the initial version of the bill, the group has said it is neutral on the current iteration, while DeMint his allies continued to push for a full repeal.

As news of DeMint's ouster broke, President Donald Trump praised Heritage boss by name during a speech to NRA members on Friday, calling DeMint "amazing" and "a real friend."

There's no doubt that DeMint has made Heritage a major player in Washington, wielding more influence on the White House and the Hill than ever before.  This was bound to create jealousies and friction with traditionalists on the board.

The Trump White House employs several Heritage scholars, and the foundation's political influence has penetrated the Washington establishment like no other conservative think-tank. 

So why is DeMint being shown the door?  There are apparently some board members who can't accept the new role of think-tanks in politics.  For decades, leftist think-tanks like Brookings and the Center for American Progress have used their research and policy arms to advance the cause of Democratic Party politics.  They have given an intellectual underpinning to policy goals of Democratic presidents.  And their scholars have been part of a revolving door that swung from their headquarters to the White House and back.

Conservative think-tanks have rarely had that kind of influence.  DeMint sought to change that and, according to some, was a little heavy-handed about it, politicizing what some believed to have been non-partisan, solid academic work.

Donors to Heritage have had few complaints, so the question arises: if the donors are satisfied with DeMint's performance, why force him out? 

DeMint was at the forefront of a conservative insurgency against the establishment while he was senator, backing the candidacies of Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee.  Now his own tenure as president of an influential policy shop appears to be coming to an end.

 

Politico is reporting that several sources on the board of the Heritage Foundation are saying there is an organized effort to dump the organization's president, Jim DeMint.  DeMint, who has a close relationship with the Trump White House, is accused of being "too political" and corrupting the foundation's historic mission of research and policy formulation.

There's also a sense that he's made the institution too much about himself. "He has been a congressman and senator. They are solo performers. When you are in the Senate, life is all about the senators," said one board member, who asked for anonymity to speak candidly about DeMint's situation. "CEO skills are different than senator skills. I think it boils down to attributes. I don't think it is particularly personal."

DeMint has been in contract negotiations, which are expected to be cut short, the sources said. An announcement about his future at Heritage is expected to come within the next few days. His contract is up at the end of 2017, according to one board member.

A handful of Heritage staffers close to DeMint, who came over from the Senate with him, are also expected to leave the think tank in what two sources called a "purge."

A GOP operative who works closely with Heritage said DeMint's removal as president was imminent and that more changes are expected to follow. "There's massive turmoil over there right now," the operative said.

Sources described what amounted to a feud between the leadership of the think tank, on the one hand, and its political-action arm, on the other.

Heritage Action, despite its reputation as the uncompromising ideological enforcer, had in recent months been working to soften its sharp edges – and even to reach out to Democrats.

"Some folks perceived that the c3 side was not going along with that, that they were being a little more bombastic or less willing to deal with anyone except the most pure conservatives," said a source familiar with the situation.

The tension came to a head at the organization's annual leadership meeting last weekend in San Diego, where the frustration of donors and board members with DeMint's hardline posture reached a boiling point. The organization's approach to Obamacare repeal was a particular point of contention. Though Heritage Action opposed the initial version of the bill, the group has said it is neutral on the current iteration, while DeMint his allies continued to push for a full repeal.

As news of DeMint's ouster broke, President Donald Trump praised Heritage boss by name during a speech to NRA members on Friday, calling DeMint "amazing" and "a real friend."

There's no doubt that DeMint has made Heritage a major player in Washington, wielding more influence on the White House and the Hill than ever before.  This was bound to create jealousies and friction with traditionalists on the board.

The Trump White House employs several Heritage scholars, and the foundation's political influence has penetrated the Washington establishment like no other conservative think-tank. 

So why is DeMint being shown the door?  There are apparently some board members who can't accept the new role of think-tanks in politics.  For decades, leftist think-tanks like Brookings and the Center for American Progress have used their research and policy arms to advance the cause of Democratic Party politics.  They have given an intellectual underpinning to policy goals of Democratic presidents.  And their scholars have been part of a revolving door that swung from their headquarters to the White House and back.

Conservative think-tanks have rarely had that kind of influence.  DeMint sought to change that and, according to some, was a little heavy-handed about it, politicizing what some believed to have been non-partisan, solid academic work.

Donors to Heritage have had few complaints, so the question arises: if the donors are satisfied with DeMint's performance, why force him out? 

DeMint was at the forefront of a conservative insurgency against the establishment while he was senator, backing the candidacies of Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee.  Now his own tenure as president of an influential policy shop appears to be coming to an end.

 

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