WASHINGTON – The Heritage Foundation, which, under the leadership of former Sen. Jim DeMint, became a strongly conservative think tank that embraced the Trump revolution and anti-establishment Republicanism, just threw it in reverse.
DeMint is out. Former president Ed Fuelner, 75, who earlier retired, is back.
“This is a big setback for real, vibrant, anti-establishment, grass-roots conservatism,” said one Heritage insider. “Big donors – be they foreign or globalist corporate interests – will be back along with establishment Republicanism.”
DeMint’s undoing with board members is said to be Heritage’s siding with House Freedom Caucus firebrands in pushing for repeal of Obamacare over House Speaker Paul Ryan’s incrementalist approach, which many conservatives saw as a sellout.
Nobody at Heritage is talking on the record.
Heritage’s board leans heavily toward big money establishment conservativism. Besides DeMint, it includes:
Thomas A. Saunders III who heads the private equity firm Saunders Karp & Megrue and is a former managing director of Morgan Stanley.
Barb Van Andel-Gaby is a former Amway executive.
Meg Allen owns an investment company in Geneva that specializes in establishing joint ventures in China.
Larry P. Arnn, president of Hillsdale College.
Ed Feulner, the former president for 40 years, who oversaw the attraction by Heritage of large financial support from China.
Steve Forbes, the head of Forbes magazine.
Michael W. Gleba, chairman and chief executive officer of the Sarah Scaife Foundation.
Ryan Haggerty, an investment manager.
Virginia Heckman, a commercial real estate developer.
Todd W. Herrick, retired chairman and president Tecumseh Products Co.
Jerry Hume, chairman of the board, Basic American Inc., an international food service company based in San Francisco.
Kay Coles James, former director of the federal Office of Personnel Management.
Mark A. Kolokotrones, founder and president, Castle Knoll Investments LLC, a financial investment firm.
Rebekah A. Mercer, the director of the Mercer Family Foundation.
J. William Middendorf II, who bills hjimself as “an intellectual force behind the North American Free Trade Agreement.”
Abby Spencer Moffat, chief executive officer of the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation, which evolved from the Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation.
Nersi Nazari, chairman of Vital Connect, Inc., a Silicon Valley entrepreneur.
Robert Pennington, former vice president of Dean Witter.
Anthony J. Saliba, chief executive officer of LiquidPoint, a Chicago-based options technology company.
Brian Tracy, founder of Brian Tracy International.
William L. Walton, founder and chairman of Rappahannock Ventures LLC, a private equity firm.
David R. Brown, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon from Oklahoma.
DeMint, meanwhile, served as president of Heritage since April 3, 2013, following a three-month transition as president-elect after stepping down from the U.S. Senate seat to which South Carolinians twice elected him. Heritage’s policy research had influenced his decision in 1998 to run for a seat in the House of Representatives; six years later, those policy solutions inspired him after his 2004 election to the Senate to build and lead a resurgent conservative caucus there.
Before serving in Congress, he ran the DeMint Group, a Greenville, S.C.-based marketing research and strategic planning business that he formed in 1983. Previously, he worked for 10 years in the research, advertising and marketing field. He was active in Greenville civic life, volunteering and leading in his Presbyterian church and numerous charitable organizations.
He holds a bachelor of science degree in communications from the University of Tennessee and a master’s degree in business administration from Clemson University.