Increasingly in Washington, “Heritage” has come to denote not the foundation or the think tank, but Heritage Action, Needham’s sharp-elbowed operation. Instead of fleshing out conservative positions, says one Republican Senate staffer, “now they’re running around trying to get Republicans voted out of office. It’s a purely ideological crusade that’s utterly divorced from the research side.” (“If Nancy Pelosi could write an anonymous check to Heritage Action,” adds the House aide bitterly, “she would.”)
As a result, the Heritage Foundation has gone from august conservative think tank revered by Washington’s Republicans to the party’s loathed ideological commissar. “It’s sad, actually,” says one Republican strategist.
“They created this false narrative,” says the Republican staffer. Inevitably, the semi-regular Hill meetings between staffers and Heritage Action grew tense. As the staffer explains, “People came away with the feeling that they’re willing to drive a truck off a cliff, but with no purpose.”
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