The Demise of the “Wall” Between the Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action

August 29th, 2013

The National Journal reports on the unfortunate recent events at the Heritage Foundation:

Heritage was allowed unique access because of its historical bond with the RSC (Republican Senate Committee).

The two groups were formed in the same year by some of the same people, and worked side-by-side for decades focusing on policy research rather than political strategy. That changed in 2010, when Republicans won back the House and the Heritage Foundation spawned Heritage Action.

There were promises of legal separation between the two entities, of course, but Republicans had little doubt that the line would eventually blur between policy shop and political outfit. And in the 113th Congress, according to Hill aides, the “wall” that Heritage employees refer to—separating the Action side from the Foundation side—has come crashing down.

This time frame coincides with the arrival of former Sen. Jim DeMint, who in January resigned his seat to take over as president of the Heritage Foundation.

I’ve heard similar grumblings from people on the Hill and in other D.C. Think Tanks about the change in focus at Heritage. Their political positions impacts the credibility of their policy positions.

Heritage has burned a lot of its intellectual capital and good will by some of their recent actions. Heritage scholars, like Todd Gaziano and others were integral in helping to formulate the legal arguments against Obamacare. Now Todd, and  others, have chosen to move onto other pursuits.

I think these events also bring into focus how pivotal the leadership crisis at Cato was last year.