The Heritage Foundation is a right-wing think tank founded in 1973 by Paul Weyrich, co-founder of the Council for National Policy (CNP) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). According to its website, the foundation’s mission is “to formulate and promote public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.”
The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) points out that the “the foundation wields considerable influence in Washington, D.C., and enjoyed particular prominence during the Reagan administration.” Despite initial reservations about Trump’s run in 2016, it quickly aligned itself with his administration, eager to help staff the government with “trusted movement conservatives” it had been tracking through its Project to Restore America database, according to The New York Times. Ultimately, Heritage influenced Trump to hire far-right cabinet members such as Betsy DeVos, Mick Mulvaney, Rick Perry, Scott Pruitt, and Jeff Sessions.
Still, “Heritage’s sway over the Republican Party has dramatically weakened,” according to The Washington Post, “in part because of how Trump changed the party.” In March 2021, the foundation brought in a new president, Kevin Roberts from the Texas Public Policy Foundation, in the expectation that his approach would be more in tune with Trumpism.
The Heritage Foundation is a member of the State Policy Network (SPN), a web of right-wing legal groups and think tanks across the U.S.
January 6, 2021
- After the attack on the Capitol, The Heritage Foundation released multiple reports condemning violence on the Left. For example, Mike Gonzales, a senior fellow at the foundation, has written that “BLM and Antifa are not the only sources of political violence in America, although they do represent the majority of it.”
- The Heritage Foundation also denounced the work of the House Select Committee investigating the attack on the Capitol. In a statement, President Kevin Roberts wrote that “this committee is comprised of politicians who are carrying out a partisan fishing expedition intent on destroying the reputations of public servants in the Trump administration.”
The Big Lie
- After the election, The Heritage Foundation released numerous statements and articles bolstering the Big Lie. For example, in a December 2020 post, Hans A. Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow with the foundation, wrote an article in support of the Texas amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to overturn the presidential election. “As Texas points out,” Spakovsky wrote, “these issues will likely be repeated in future elections. If the Supreme Court does not take up these issues now, they may well have another opportunity in the future.”
- Building on false claims of widespread voter fraud, since 2021 Heritage has been aggressively working to draft and pass model legislation restricting voting access across the country, according to Mother Jones. This has led to the passage of more restrictive laws in battleground states including Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and Iowa.