After days of speculation in the press that conservative policy group the Heritage Foundation was preparing to oust its President, the group announced in a Tuesday statement that its board of directors had accepted the resignation of president Jim DeMint.
On May 2, Thomas A. Saunders III, chairman of The Heritage Foundation’s Board of Trustees, released a statement about the group’s change in leadership.
In his statement, Saunders noted that the board asked for and accepted former Senator DeMint’s resignation as president and CEO of the group. DeMint became president of the group in 2012 after resigning his Senate seat.
The board has temporarily placed Heritage Founder Ed Feulner as president while a search for his replacement is conducted.
“After a comprehensive and independent review of the entire Heritage organization, the Board determined there were significant and worsening management issues that led to a breakdown of internal communications and cooperation,” Saunders wrote in the statement. “While the organization has seen many successes, Jim DeMint and a handful of his closest advisers failed to resolve these problems.”
Saunders noted that the board felt “compelled to take action” to fulfill its obligations to its 500,000 members.
“Heritage has never been about one individual, but rather the power of conservative ideas,” Saunders wrote. “Heritage is bigger than any one person.”
Saunders also insisted that he “wholeheartedly” endorsed the change.
The statement went on to praise Mr. Feulner:
Heritage is a permanent policy research institution fighting for conservative ideas, as Ed Feulner often reminds us. We remain committed, as ever, to the principles that have made America great: free enterprise; limited government; individual freedom; traditional American values; and a strong national defense. This will continue under the leadership of Ed and his successor.
“There is no one better to guide the ship while we seek our new leader and continue to push for conservative ideas and policies,” Saunders said of Feulner, continuing:
As conservatives, we have a tremendous opportunity ahead of us to restore the principles of the American founding. You and the 500,000 Americans who donate to support Heritage have played a crucial role in making our work possible, and I look forward to working with you in the future. As we move forward, the Board of Trustees will be seeking your thoughts and input about our search for the next leader of Heritage.
Saunders’ statement added that he “regretted” not being able to reveal the coming changes sooner, but he wanted to “ensure that the Board’s decision was final before alerting you.”
“Unfortunately, the media ran with speculation about this story before the facts could be disclosed. As a loyal Heritage supporter, I hope that you will understand the reasons that compelled these changes and stand with us in this time of transition,” the statement concluded.
Immediately after the organization released its statement, Mr. DeMint released a statement of his own remarking on his tenure at Heritage and listing the group’s accomplishments during his time there.
“When I came to Heritage in 2013, I told our staff and millions of members around the country that over the next four years, we had the opportunity to lead a resurgence of conservative policies and communications to win the hearts and minds of the American people,” DeMint said in his statement, adding:
I’m grateful to have worked with some of the greatest minds and talents in America and believe we’ve accomplished together what we set out to do. Reagan once said there’s no limit to what you can achieve if you don’t care who gets the credit, and nothing better exemplifies that selfless dedication than the men and women I’ve been honored to work with at Heritage. I will continue to be part of that great fight for freedom for years to come and I’m excited about the next chapter in my work for the conservative movement.
The former South Carolina Senator went on to say he was “puzzled” by the organization’s statement:
The public statement released earlier is puzzling given that the board of trustees has praised our work for four years and approved performance bonuses for the entire management team each year for a job well done. It also stands in stark contrast to the independent review by the University of Pennsylvania which publicly recognized advances in Heritage’s scholarship, management and integrity over the last 4 years, and improved Heritage’s rankings in virtually every category. In fact, Heritage was recognized as the 13th Best Managed Think Tank in the world in 2016.
DeMint added that he is proud of having the most “successful impact on a presidential transition team since the days of Ronald Reagan.” It is work, DeMint said, that culminated in the “confirmation of Judge Gorsuch and one of the best presidential cabinets in recent history.”
DeMint went on to list many of the accomplishments he feels Heritage made under his leadership, including a key role in Trump’s transition, and that Heritage helped the president pick his Supreme Court candidates including Justice Neil Gorsuch, guided budget reforms, the establishment of four new research institutes, the launch of “The Daily Signal,” a conservative news and commentary site, the creation of the Feulner-Weyrich Fellowship program for Capitol Hill staffers, and others.
“All in all, this is a record of which I am very proud,” DeMint concluded, “on behalf of myself, my management team and the many dedicated Heritage staff and members nationwide.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.