Heritage Foundation

The best-known and most influential right-wing think tank, the Heritage Foundation owes much of its success to savvy marketing and PR and the generous donations of right-wing benefactors, foundations and wealthy corporations. The foundation boasts about its influence on Capitol Hill yet insists that it does not "lobby."

Heritage Foundation
214 Massachusetts Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20002
Website: www.heritage.org

President/Executive Director: Dr. Edwin Feulner
Established: In 1973 by Joseph Coors (of Coors Beer) and Paul Weyrich.
Finances: $52,292,374 revenue (2004); $123 million in assets (2004) (2004 990)
Officers: Edwin J. Feulner, Jr., President; Phillip N. Truluck, Executive Vice President; Stuart M. Butler, Vice President; Becky Norton Dunlop, Vice President; Michael G. Franc, Vice President; Rebecca Hagelin, Vice President; Kim R. Holmes, Vice President; John Von Kannon, Vice President & Treasurer; Edwin Meese III, Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow in Public Policy; Robert E. Russell, Jr., Counselor and others.
Board of Trustees: David R. Brown, M.D., Chairman; Richard M. Scaife, Vice Chairman; J. Frederic Rench; Douglas F. Allison; Holland H. Coors; Midge Decter; Edwin J. Feulner, Jr.; Jerry Hume; Kay Cole James; Hon. J. William Middendorf, II; Barb Van Andel-Gaby; and others.
Employees: 173 excluding fellows
Membership: 275,000
Publications: annual report, monthly newsletter "Insider," publishes numerous detailed public policy papers for Congress, average of 10 or more a month.

Read the latest news on the Heritage Foundation on the group's Right Wing Watch index page

Principal Issues

  • Heritage Foundation's mission is "to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense."
  • Heritage is the largest conservative think tank in Washington, DC.
  • It researches, publishes, lectures on, and markets right-wing public policy.
  • It organizes right-wing activists on domestic and foreign policy issues.
  • Heritage's publications are distributed to many thousands of people, including Members of Congress, congressional aides and staff, journalists, and major donors.
  • It takes credit for much of President Bush's policy, both domestic and foreign, referring to Bush's policies as "straight out of the Heritage play book."
  • Heritage supports faith-based initiatives, school vouchers, ban on abortion, overturning affirmative action programs.

Recent Activities

  • The Heritage Foundation (HF) suggested that Bush open up an "Office of Marriage Initiatives" to promote marriage, but instead Bush folded HF's "pro-marriage" proposals into his welfare reform package, setting aside $300 million dollars for states and local communities to "promote marriage."
  • Heritage's new office space, renovated in 2002, includes intern and fellow apartments, a 200-seat auditorium, a private fitness center, and two floors dedicated to expanding the research department.
  • Published "Priorities for the President," written for President Bush. Heritage also wrote "A Budget for America," a companion volume written for the Bush administration.
  • Internet activities: in 2001, Heritage reported 4.8 million visitors to their homepage, and 14.4 million visitors to their conservative Internet portal, Townhall.com.


  • According to Media Transparency, the Heritage Foundation received $61,944,537 in foundation grants from organizations such as: the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Scaife Foundations, the John M. Olin Foundation, Inc., Castle Rock Foundation, JM Foundation, Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, and the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.
  • Heritage has received donations from the East Asian nations of South Korea and Taiwan; SourceWatch reports that in 1988 Korean intelligence discovered that Heritage received $2.2 million from the South Korean National Assembly during the 1980's. Although Heritage denies this claim, they do admit to receiving a $400,000 grant from the Korean conglomerate Samsung.
  • The Korea Foundation, a conduit of the Korean government, has also donated almost $1 million to Heritage in the past three years.

Former Heritage Foundation employees who have served in the Bush Administration

  • Elaine Chao: Department of Labor Secretary; formerly a Heritage Distinguished Fellow
  • Kay Coles James: Director of the Office of Personnel Management; formerly Heritage's Citizenship Project director
  • Angela Antonelli: Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Housing and Urban Development; formerly Heritage's director for Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies
  • Mark Wilson: Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor; formerly Heritage Foundation's Research Fellow
  • Alvin Felzenberg: a member of Rumsfeld's "team" at the Department of Defense; formerly Heritage Foundation's Visiting Fellow
  • Gale Norton: Secretary of the Interior; Founder of the National Chair of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy (heavily funded by Heritage Foundation).

Other Employees and Board Members of Note

  • Famous Heritage staffers include: Ed Meese (President Ronald Reagan's Attorney General), William Bennett (Reagan's Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities and Secretary of Education, and President Bush Sr.'s "drug czar"). Virginia Thomas (wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas) Heritage President Edward J. Feulner was a consultant for the Reagan administration, serving as chairman of the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.
  • High profile right wing Heritage board members have included: Richard Scaife, Joseph Coors, Holland "Holly" Coors, Steve Forbes, Jay Van Andel (co-founder and senior chairman for Amway Corporation), and Barb Van Andel-Gaby (the vice president of corporate affairs for Amway Corporation), among others.

History and Background

  • Prominent right-wing figure Paul Weyrich was Heritage's first president. Heritage's start was financially supported by co-founder Joseph Coors, of Colorado's Coors Brewing Company.
  • Right-wing financier Richard Scaife became a major funder of the Heritage Foundation after its first year, donating millions of dollars through the Sarah Scaife Foundation.
  • Corporate sponsors of the organization have included: General Motors, Ford Motors, Proctor and Gamble, Chase Manhattan Bank, Dow Chemical, the Reader's Digest Association, Mobil Oil, and Smith Kline Corporation.
  • In 1980, Heritage published a 1,077-page book called Mandate for Leadership, which contained 2000 policy recommendations. It was presented to Attorney General Ed Meese a week after Reagan's election. Meese was quoted as saying that "the Reagan Administration will rely heavily on the Heritage Foundation." These recommendations included: rollback of minority programs, dramatic increase in military spending, and cutting taxes. In 1985 Heritage claimed that the Reagan administration's policy reflected 60 to 65 percent of their policy measures. Heritage publishes a new edition every four years for subsequent administrations.

Quotes about the Heritage Foundation

The Wall Street Journal says, "No policy shop has more clout than the conservative Heritage Foundation."

"Keep up the wonderful work of truth which emanates from Heritage."
– John Ashcroft in praise of Heritage

"Some of the finest conservatives in America today do their work in The Heritage Foundation. For those of you new to all this, The Heritage Foundation is America's leading conservative think tank."
– Rush Limbaugh, November 10, 2000. Read

The Democratic Policy Committee Annual Report says, "It is hard to overstate the impact The Heritage Foundation has had on the direction of U.S. policy since the late 1970's." Read.

"The Heritage Foundation will continue to be a key element in the phalanx of rightist groups with an agenda of austerity for the poor, hostility to minorities and women, upward distribution of wealth for the rich, economic domination of the Third World, with repression and bloodletting for those who rebel."
– Russ Bellant, The Coors Connection, 1991

Updated: December 2006

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Heritage Foundation