South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, known as one of the most conservative senators on the Hill, will leave office in January to take a position as the President of the Heritage Foundation next fall. Current Heritage President Ed Feulner, who helped build the conservative think tank, will step down in April and serve as Chancellor of the Foundation and Chairman at the Heritage Asian Studies Center.
Feulner has been associated with Heritage from its inception. Indeed, it was he and conservative activist Paul Weyrich, who first came up with the idea of creating an independent institute able to inform Washington’s policy debates with well-researched policy recommendations reflecting conservative principles. He was a founding trustee when Heritage opened its doors in 1973.
Four years later, Feulner was named president, taking charge of a staff of 25 who toiled cheek by jowl in a ramshackle two-story townhouse. Under his leadership, Heritage has become an internationally-recognized research institution with a staff of 250, state-of-the-art offices on both sides of the Capitol and an annual budget of more than $80 million.
“This is a crucial moment for America and for the conservative movement—and we are seizing it,” said Heritage Chairman of the Board Thomas A. Saunders in a press release. “Ed Feulner has made Heritage not just a permanent institution on Capitol Hill, but the flagship organization of the entire conservative movement.
Nearly 18 years ago, Feulner was instrumental in embracing the new age of the Internet as a way conservatives could move their message and small government principles forward. With this vision, Feulner helped found and develop Townhall.com which stands today as one of the most influential conservative websites on the Internet.
Moving into the next chapter of Heritage history, DeMint serves as a natural fit for his new position.
“Jim DeMint has shown that principled conservatism remains a winning political philosophy,” Saunders said. “His passion for rigorous research, his dedication to the principles of our nation’s founding, and his ability to translate policy ideas into action make him an ideal choice to lead Heritage to even greater success.”
DeMint's private sector experience will also add to his influence.
“Heritage has always been a rarity in the think tank world: a scholarly institution run like a business. Jim’s background meshes perfectly with that special blend of culture,” Saunders said.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with the Board’s selection,” said Feulner. “Jim DeMint understands that conservative principles and values advance the interests of all Americans—regardless of age, gender, wealth or race. He is firmly committed Heritage’s immutable mission: to build an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity and civil society flourish.”
UPDATE: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who DeMint called this morning to announce his resignation, has released a statement.
“I thank Senator DeMint for his uncompromising service to South Carolina and our country in the United States Senate. Jim helped provide a powerful voice for conservative ideals in a town where those principles are too often hidden beneath business as usual. There is no question in my mind that he raised the profile of important issues like spending and debt and helped galvanize the American people against a big government agenda. I am confident that he will continue to advocate for conservative principles in the next chapter of his service to the American people.”