Jim DeMint’s aggressive politicization of the Heritage Foundation isn’t sitting too well with a former Republican congressman who helped start the conservative think tank.
The New York Times ran a big piece on Monday that covered the transformation of Heritage under DeMint, who’s swapped the organization’s wonkish, policy-centric approach for an ideological focus that draws heavily from the tea party movement.
According to the Times, some of Heritage’s top scholars have left in recent months and research that runs counter to the group’s goals has been quashed.
None of that sits too well with Mickey Edwards, a former GOP congressman and a founding trustee of the Heritage Foundation.
“DeMint has not only politicized Heritage, he’s also trivialized it,” Edwards said.
Edwards has lamented the direction of the organization previously, telling The New Republic last year that no “thoughtful person is going to take the Heritage Foundation very seriously, because they’ll say, How is this any different from the Tea Party?”
The group’s political arm, Heritage Action, was the driving force behind the quixotic movement to defund Obamacare that forced a government shutdown last year.
DeMint fueled that campaign, insisting that President Obama might actually sign a bill that would gut his signature legislative achievement.
The shutdown forced a lot of Republican lawmakers to re-evaluate the Heritage Foundation. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said that the organization’s “radicalness” could cost the think tank “its clout and its power around Washington, D.C.”