Non-profit

Heritage Action for America

This is a logo for Heritage Action. (link)
Website:

heritageaction.com

Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

27-2244700

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $10,239,032
Expenses: $10,340,577
Assets: $6,298,625

Formation:

2010

Type:

Center-Right Advocacy Group

ESG Activism

For more information, please see: Heritage Foundation

Heritage Action for America (Heritage Action) is the Heritage Foundation’s advocacy arm. The Heritage Foundation is a right-of-center policy think tank that researches and recommends policies such as free markets, limited government, a strong national defense, and courts that adhere to the original meaning of the U.S. Constitution. [1] [2]

Heritage Action staffers directly lobby federal politicians to follow the Heritage Foundation’s policy advice. The direct lobbying is reinforced by grassroots allies across the nation who are mobilized and equipped by Heritage Action to pressure federal lawmakers to adopt Heritage Foundation recommendations. In a joint statement announcing the creation of Heritage Action in 2010, Heritage’s then-president and Heritage Action’s new director said the objective was to attach “new fangs” on the Heritage think tank’s “beast” and help the grassroots activists tell members of Congress to “vote the right way or start looking for a new line of work.” [3] [4]

Background

Heritage Action for America (Heritage Action) is the Heritage Foundation’s lobbying and electoral advocacy arm. Heritage Action staffers directly lobby federal politicians to follow the Heritage Foundation’s policy advice. Heritage Action’s direct lobbying is supplemented and reinforced by the Heritage Action “Sentinels,” nearly 20,000 members across the nation who are mobilized and equipped to pressure their own federal lawmakers on each of Heritage Action’s priorities. [5]

Heritage Action was created in 2010. As of March 2021, Jessica Anderson was the executive director and the “staff” page showed 22 additional employees. [6] Federal Tax filings for 2018 showed total expenses of nearly $11 million, total revenue of $11.3 million, and net assets of $5.8 million. [7]

Strategic Goal

In April 2010, Edwin Feulner, then the Heritage Foundation’s president, and Michael Needham, the first CEO of Heritage Action, announced the birth of Heritage Action with a co-authored opinion in the Wall Street Journal. Noting that the Heritage Foundation had been referred to as “the beast” of policy research think tanks, Feulner and Needham declared that Heritage Action was intended to become the “new fangs” on the “beast.” [8]

Describing Heritage Action’s strategy, Feulner and Needham wrote that it would “guarantee that when a wavering congressman thinks of voting for higher taxes, increased regulation, or a weaker national defense, television ads in his home district will remind him that a vote for bigger government is a vote for less freedom.” The pair also wrote that these advertisements would be supplemented by Heritage Action advocates in every state who would visit members of congress in their home offices and let them know to “vote the right way or start looking for a new line of work.” [9]

In their conclusion they wrote: “The Heritage Foundation will continue to shed light with its fact-based research. Action for America will provide the political heat.” [10]

Legislative Scorecard

Heritage Action has compiled a Legislative Scorecard for each session of Congress since the 112th Congress (in session during 2011 and 2012). The Scorecard assigns a percentage grade to every lawmaker that is based on roll call votes and bill sponsorship for legislation related to the Heritage Foundation’s policy advice. [11]

For the 116th Congress (in session for 2019 and 2020), the Heritage Action Legislative Scorecard gave an average grade of 1 percent to House Democrats and 85 percent to House Republicans. Similarly, Senate Democrats received an average grade of 3 percent, and Senate Republicans 73 percent. [12]

The Sentinel Program

Heritage Action provides its nearly 20,000 activist members, known as Sentinels, with general training programs and specific assistance for each Heritage Action agenda item that comes before Congress. [13]

Prior to what Heritage Action defines as the “key votes” on items to be judged as part of the Legislative Scorecard, the organization alerts lawmakers and media that the vote will be used. In concert with this, Heritage Action’s Sentinels are provided with talking points to use when advising their respective senators and representatives to follow Heritage Action’s advice. The Sentinels are also provided with “Issue Toolkits,” which include suggested language, graphics, and memes to use when making social media posts regarding the key votes and legislation. [14] [15]

As an example, a March 2021 alert recommended that senators cast a vote against the confirmation of Xavier Becerra, who was then President Joe Biden’s nominee to become Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. The alert stated: “Heritage Action opposes the Becerra nomination and will include the confirmation vote on our legislative scorecard.” Similarly, an Issue Toolkit referenced Becerra’s actions as Attorney General of California as recommend language to be used on Twitter: “Xavier Becerra has little to no experience in health care. What he has done, however, is sue Catholic nuns to try and force them to pay for abortions. Becerra isn’t pro-choice…he’s pro-abortion…and way too radical for America.” [16] [17]

Controversy

Allegations of mismanagement of Heritage Action by former Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint were cited in many media accounts as a potential contributing factor in the Heritage board’s decision to dismiss DeMint in May 2017. Some reports implied DeMint had allowed Heritage Action to become too aggressive, and in so doing had damaged the Heritage Foundation’s relationships and influence in Congress. [18] Alternatively, other sources alleged DeMint’s fault was in trying to restrain Heritage Action. [19]

In an official statement regarding the decision to ask for DeMint’s resignation, Heritage board chairman Thomas Saunders III said the following: “After a comprehensive and independent review of the entire Heritage organization, the Board determined there were significant and worsening management issues that led to a breakdown of internal communications and cooperation. While the organization has seen many successes, Jim DeMint and a handful of his closest advisers failed to resolve these problems.” [20]

References

  1. “True North: The Principles of Conservatism.” Heritage Foundation. Accessed March 16, 2021. https://www.heritage.org/truenorth ^
  2. “About Heritage: Impact.” Heritage Foundation. Accessed March 16, 2021. https://www.heritage.org/about-heritage/impact ^
  3. Feulner, Edwin J.; and Michael A. Needham. “New Fangs for the Conservative ‘Beast.’” Wall Street Journal. April 12, 2010. Accessed March 10, 2021. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304222504575173850070877846 ^
  4. “About.” Heritage Action for America. Accessed March 10, 2021. https://heritageaction.com/about ^
  5. “About.” Heritage Action for America. Accessed March 10, 2021. https://heritageaction.com/about ^
  6. “Heritage Action Staff.” Heritage Action for America. Accessed March 11, 2021. https://heritageaction.com/about/staff-1-1 ^
  7. “Heritage Action for America.” IRS Form 990. 2018. Accessed March 11, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/272244700/201921789349300772/full ^
  8. Feulner, Edwin J.; and Michael A. Needham. “New Fangs for the Conservative ‘Beast.’” Wall Street Journal. April 12, 2010. Accessed March 10, 2021. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304222504575173850070877846 ^
  9. Feulner, Edwin J.; and Michael A. Needham. “New Fangs for the Conservative ‘Beast.’” Wall Street Journal. April 12, 2010. Accessed March 10, 2021. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304222504575173850070877846 ^
  10. Feulner, Edwin J.; and Michael A. Needham. “New Fangs for the Conservative ‘Beast.’” Wall Street Journal. April 12, 2010. Accessed March 10, 2021. https://heritageaction.com/issues https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304222504575173850070877846 ^
  11. “Scorecard: How Conservative are your Congressmen and Senators?” Heritage Action for America. Accessed March 11, 2021. https://heritageaction.com/scorecard ^
  12. “Scorecard: Congressional Session 116th (2019/2020).” Heritage Action for America. Accessed March 11, 2021. https://heritageaction.com/scorecard/116 ^
  13. “Congress Needs Accountability: Become a Heritage Action Sentinel in Your Community.” Heritage Action for America. Accessed March 11, 2021. https://heritageaction.com/about-sentinel ^
  14. “Issues: Where we stand on the main policy fights facing Congress.” Heritage Action for America. ^
  15. “KEY VOTE: “NO” on the confirmation of Xavier Becerra.” Heritage Action for America. March 11, 2021. Accessed March 11, 2021. https://heritageaction.com/key-vote/key-vote-no-on-the-confirmation-of-xavier-becerra ^
  16. “KEY VOTE: “NO” on the confirmation of Xavier Becerra.” Heritage Action for America. March 11, 2021. Accessed March 11, 2021. https://heritageaction.com/key-vote/key-vote-no-on-the-confirmation-of-xavier-becerra ^
  17. “Issue Toolkit: Stop Biden’s Radical Nominees.” Heritage Action for America. Accessed March 11, 2021. https://heritageaction.com/toolkit/stop-bidens-radical-nominees ^
  18. Hamburger, Tom; and Matea Gold. “Heritage Foundation board ousts president Jim DeMint.” Washington Post. May 2, 2017. Accessed March 11, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/heritage-foundation-board-ousts-president-jim-demint/2017/05/02/b53a706a-2f63-11e7-9534-00e4656c22aa_story.html ^
  19. Timiraos, Nick; and Reid J. Epstein. “Heritage Foundation Removes Jim DeMint as President.” Wall Street Journal. May 2, 2017. https://www.wsj.com/articles/heritage-foundation-removes-jim-demint-as-president-1493759673 ^
  20. “Statement From the Chairman of Heritage’s Board of Trustees.” Heritage Foundation. May 2, 2017. Accessed March 11, 2021. https://www.heritage.org/article/statement-the-chairman-heritages-board-trustees?utm_campaign=thf-fb&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook ^

Associated Organizations

  1. Heritage Foundation (Non-profit)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: August 1, 2010

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $10,239,032 $10,340,577 $6,298,625 $802,781 N $9,685,528 $517,500 $18,119 $793,715 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $11,987,038 $12,154,755 $7,154,426 $1,566,973 N $11,418,703 $517,500 $21,555 $761,036
    2015 Dec Form 990 $11,355,955 $11,324,444 $6,752,644 $1,007,409 N $10,830,928 $500,000 $15,401 $694,249 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $10,516,720 $9,610,034 $6,730,672 $1,014,167 N $10,118,437 $375,000 $21,790 $540,308 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $8,798,726 $7,665,825 $5,531,452 $707,938 N $8,787,809 $0 $10,572 $491,193 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $5,930,423 $4,177,693 $4,014,744 $320,088 N $5,902,873 $0 $14,263 $415,451 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $4,600,406 $4,140,701 $2,051,036 $135,753 N $4,584,100 $0 $19,010 $422,844 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Heritage Action for America

    214 MASSACHUSETTS AVE NE STE 400
    WASHINGTON, DC 20002-4958