Three sources from different conservative groups said that Heritage employees have been soliciting, stockpiling and vetting résumés for months with an eye on stacking Trump’s administration with conservative appointees across the government. One source described the efforts as a “shadow transition team” and “an effort to have the right kind of people in there.”
...There’s no question that the organization is recognized, among other conservative movement leaders, as the entry point into the Trump transition team.
After Heritage Action, the foundation's political arm, offered a bruising assessment of Trump last November, Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint went on to meet with Trump during the campaign. Although there were certainly many tied to Heritage who preferred other candidates in the primary, the main organization largely steered clear of anti-Trump rhetoric throughout the rest of the election, instead assisting the candidate and his team with matters like determining potential Supreme Court justice nominees. That dynamic has helped pave the way for a relationship with an incoming administration that so heavily prizes loyalty.
Heritage, as a think tank, cannot engage in partisan campaign activity — it makes its research available to everyone, staffers stress — but that doesn’t mean its members can’t advise candidates on both political and policy matters.
It’s also unclear how much Trump, who maintains a very tight circle of trusted advisers — his family makes up a significant portion of that circle — can actually be influenced by outside forces. The Trump administration’s ultimate commitment to conservative approaches on a host of issues, including spending, is very much an open question.
Here is a new Think Tank Watch piece on the new think tank landscape in a Trump Administration.