Heritage Action

Since the 1970s, the Heritage Foundation has been a leading conservative think tank. However, the creation of its 501(c)(4) lobbying arm Heritage Action in 2010 has added a new dimension to its activities. One Republican congressional staffer once poignantly remarked that Heritage Action “makes six hundred phone calls and have a member of Congress in the fetal position.”[1] Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint, a former Republican Senator from South Carolina, has reportedly empowered Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham to push Heritage Action’s agenda at the expense of the Heritage Foundation’s previous relationships.[2]

Heritage Action played a crucial role in instigating Republican lawmakers to shut down the federal government in October 2013. The organization’s leaders barnstormed the nation on a bus tour and spent $550,000 on digital ads pressuring Republicans to go along with the shutdown.[3] During the subsequent shutdown, the Koch brothers donated $500,000 to Heritage Action.[4] Similarly, during the shutdown debate of 2015, Heritage Action asserted that forcing a shutdown to defund Planned Parenthood “would not be the end of the world, and it needs to be an option.”[5]

[1]A 31-year-old is tearing apart the Heritage Foundation.” Julia Ioffe, The New Republic, 11/24/13

[2]A 31-year-old is tearing apart the Heritage Foundation.” Julia Ioffe, The New Republic, 11/24/13

[3]Hidden hand: How Heritage Action drove DC to shut down.” Zeke Miller, Time Swampland blog, 9/30/13

[4]Koch Bros. donate to Heritage Action.” Anna Palmer, Politico, 10/9/13

[5]Defunding Planned Parenthood.” Nicholas Barden, HeritageAction.com, 9/23/15