Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) Resigns to Run Heritage Foundation

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is going to resign from the Senate in order to replace Edwin Feulner as President of the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank he led for 36 years.

Here is a blog post from Heritage about the announcement.  Following is an excerpt:
Heritage’s Board of Trustees unanimously chose DeMint as the organization’s next leader, starting April 3. DeMint will resign from the Senate and start as president-elect in early January, so he and Feulner can ensure a smooth transition. After April, Feulner will continue serving as Chancellor of the Foundation and Chairman of our Asian Studies Center.
Here is a video from an October 2012 event in which Sen. DeMint talks about the importance of the Heritage Foundation.

Here is Ed Feulner's E-mail to members and supporters about DeMint.

Here is what the Huffington Post has to say about DeMint's move to Heritage.

Here is what Politico has to say:
Top positions at influential nonprofits such as the Heritage Foundation can come with at least six-figure salaries, and in Heritage’s case, seven-figures. Based on most recent reports filed with the Internal Revenue Service, leaders of seven conservative groups drew in average annual salaries of about $520,000 in 2010
Heritage’s outgoing president, Edwin Feulner, made $1,025,922 in 2010 and $989,634 in 2009, according to the foundation’s IRS reports.
As nonprofits and think tanks get more involved in lobbying and elections, and the gridlock on Capitol Hill continues, offers for plush jobs for members of Congress and staffers will only increase, said Peter Metzger, vice chairman of CT Partners, a lobbyist and executive headhunter outfit.
“It’s going to be a trend if not an avalanche,” Metzger said.
Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, a group that pushes for government transparency, also expects DeMint’s move to a think tank to become common practice for members of Congress.
“DeMint has a Rolodex that he is basically selling to Heritage,” Holman said. “I haven’t seen the revolving door abuse happen with nonprofit groups, but I do expect this to become more common as these front groups from the election like Crossroads GPS get more into lobbying activity.”
Based on Feulner’s salary and DeMint’s influence, Holman predicts he could be getting an annual salary close to $3 million from Heritage.
Here is another Politico piece on the Heritage Foundation:
Jim DeMint's surprise departure from the Senate reinvigorates the 39-year-old Heritage Foundation at a time when much of the ideas and policy output flowing from conservative think tanks has become predictable, uninspiring and often lacking in influence.
DeMint’s appointment is raising concerns among conservatives that, given his past experience on the political battlefield, the former senator will be tempted to turn Heritage into a weapon against Democrats, rather than as a fount of bold new ideas to inspire the right.
Roll Call says that Heritage's star will rise with DeMint.

WPost's Jennifer Rubin on why DeMint heading the Heritage Foundation is a "bad" move.

Another WPost article says that DeMint marks a new, sharper edge for the Heritage Foundation.

Here is some commentary by the WPost's Dana Milbank:
At first blush, there is something delightfully dada about Jim DeMint being named president of the Heritage Foundation.
The senator, a tea party hero from South Carolina, is a smart guy and a good politician. But running a think tank? It is the scholarly equivalent of appointing Michael Moore to head the Brookings Institution, or Ted Nugent to the Cato Institute, or Roseanne Barr to the Council on Foreign Relations, or perhaps Donald Trump to the American Enterprise Institute.
But think about it some more and the choice of DeMint begins to look brilliant. He is, arguably, the perfect candidate to run a post-thought think tank.
There is less thinking going on in much of the Washington think-tank world these days: Following the trend in politics generally, these idea factories have turned away from idea production in favor of promoting well-worn policy prescriptions. The task is less to come up with new solutions than to win the argument with epithets, labels and caricatures.
The trend goes beyond Heritage. The Family Research Council has joined the shift from wonks to gladiators. The liberal Center for American Progress was created as a conscious imitation of Heritage — more political and aggressive, less bookish. Indeed, researchers there have done extensive opposition research into . . . Jim DeMint.
Now Heritage appears ready to shed that veneer and dedicate itself to ideological and partisan warfare. And there’s no better warrior than Jim DeMint.

Here is the WPost's Ezra Klein on DeMint and the "death of think tanks."

People for the American Way (PFAW) blasted the Heritage Foundation for picking DeMint.

The American Conservative Union (ACU) said it looks forward to continuing to work with DeMint at Heritage.

This week, Heritage also had a shake-up in its foreign policy team.