Conservative U.S. think tank Heritage
Foundation fires leader
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[May 03, 2017]
By Ginger Gibson
WASHINGTON(Reuters) - The Heritage
Foundation, a leading conservative think tank that has gained influence
in Republican-controlled Washington, fired its leader Jim DeMint on
Tuesday, and sources close to the situation said the organization's
leadership determined he had veered too far from its conservative
principals and too close to U.S. President Donald Trump's White House.
A scathing statement from Thomas A. Saunders III, chairman of The
Heritage Foundationís Board of Trustees, did not go into specifics of
any disagreement but did cite problems with internal communications and
other "management issues."
"After a comprehensive and independent review of the entire Heritage
organization, the Board determined there were significant and worsening
management issues that led to a breakdown of internal communications and
cooperation," Saunders said in a statement.
"While the organization has seen many successes, Jim DeMint and a
handful of his closest advisers failed to resolve these problems."
Two political operatives who work with the organization said DeMint's
opponents argued that he had grown too close to Trump and too far from
the conservative principles on which the organization was founded.
Ed Feulner, who previously served as the Heritage president, will return
to the role in an interim capacity until a replacement is found,
according to a statement from the Heritage board.
DeMint, a former senator from South Carolina, took over the organization
in 2013 after he retired from public office. Since then, he has
transformed the organization once known for research and white papers
into a political behemoth. For instance, he created an arm of the
organization devoted entirely to influencing elections and pushing
lawmakers to side with the group's policy positions.
[to top of second column]
Former South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, president of the The
Heritage Foundation, speaks at a "Defund Obamacare Tour" rally in
Indianapolis August 26, 2013. REUTERS/Nate Chute
But as DeMint transformed the organization, unease grew within its
ranks, according to the sources.
After Trump was elected, more than a dozen staffers from the
Heritage Foundation and its political arm Heritage Action were
deployed as volunteers to help with the transition process. Heritage
staffers worked on teams deployed to set up a Trump government at
the EPA, the Office of Management and Budget and the departments of
Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, State and Treasury. An
additional seven volunteers on the transition team had ties to
Heritage, either having worked there before or working as a
non-staff expert with the think tank.
(Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by David Gregorio)
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