Amid a turbulent week at the conservative Heritage Foundation with the ouster of former Sen. Jim DeMint as its president, the group is promoting recent fundraising receipts as a way to boost morale.
“Change is hard. It creates questions, including from our members,” Carsten Walter, Heritage’s vice president of development operations, said in an email to his colleagues obtained by CQ Roll Call. “The strong pace of donations from the first four months of the year — we finished April almost ten percent ahead of our target for operating revenue — continues this week. So far this week, we’ve brought in almost $6 million in revenue!”
Walter did not specify in the email any source of the funds but said donors were motivated by “the ideas that you and I both believe in.”
DeMint, a Republican who represented South Carolina in the Senate from 2005-2013, ran Heritage for four years. The group cultivated strong ties with the House Freedom Caucus and other hard-line conservatives on Capitol Hill during his tenure, often finding itself at odds with the GOP leadership.
Thomas A. Saunders III, chairman of Heritage’s board, said the organization had asked for and received DeMint’s resignation on Tuesday. Ed Feulner, a Heritage founder and longtime president, serves as interim chief while the organization looks for a new leader.
Saunders earlier this week made no effort to hide the board’s dissatisfaction with DeMint.
“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,” he said. “While the organization has seen many successes, Jim DeMint and a handful of his closest advisers failed to resolve these problems.”
In his statement released after his ouster, DeMint said 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.” His salary was more than $1.1 million, according to Heritage’s 2015 tax return.
DeMint also listed his successes at the organization, including that Heritage played “a key role in the presidential transition of President Trump, with dozens of Heritage staff helping offer conservative policy recommendations for the new administration.”
One political operative with direct knowledge of Heritage, who asked not to be named, said the conservative group has also experienced canceled memberships and canceled donations in solidarity with DeMint.