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Heritage Foundation

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Founded in 1973, The Heritage Foundation is a New Right think tank. Its stated 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." It is widely considered one of the world's most influential public policy research institutes.



The Foundation wields considerable influence in Washington, and enjoyed particular prominence during the Reagan administration. Its initial funding was provided by Joseph Coors, of the Coors beer empire, and Richard Mellon Scaife, heir of the Mellon industrial and banking fortune. The Foundation maintains strong ties with the London Institute of Economic Affairs and the Mont Pelerin Society.

With a long history of receiving large donations from overseas, Heritage continues to rake in a minimum of several hundred thousand dollars from Taiwan and South Korea each year.

In autumn of 1988, the South Korean National Assembly uncovered a document revealing that Korean intelligence gave $2.2 million to the Heritage Foundation on the sly during the early 1980s. Heritage officials "categorically deny" the accusation.

Heritage's latest annual report does acknowledge a $400,000 grant from the Korean conglomerate Samsung. Another donor, the Korea Foundation - which conduits money from the South Korean government - has given Heritage almost $1 million in the past three years.

The Heritage Foundation concerns itself with many issues, from missile defense to Europe to public administration, and about 20 other subject areas. It regularly publishes comprehensive articles, papers, journals, etc., expressing its strong neo-conservative opinions in these subject areas.

While the Foundation has contributed many ideas and positions on contemporary public policy, it is best known for the support generated by its foreign policy analysts in the 1980s and early 1990s to provide military and other support to anti-communist resistance movements in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Nicaragua and other nations, a policy that came to be known as the Reagan doctrine.

The Foundation ultimately succeeeded in this effort, winning both covert and overt United States support to so-called "wars of liberation" against Soviet-aligned states around the world. Critics argued that this effort led to undue bloodshed in the Third World and damaged American relations with the former Soviet Union. Supporters have argued that the cost imposed on Moscow by such efforts was huge, leading to the beginning of the end for the imperial Soviet empire. Whatever the truth, it was the first prominent example of The Heritage Foundation's ability to spark global debate and alter fundamentally the course of American policy.

The Foundation worked closely with leading anti-communist movements, including the Nicaraguan contras and Jonas Savimbi's Unita movement in Angola to bring military, economic and political pressure on Soviet-aligned regimes. Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Foundation's support for the Nicaraguan contras and Angola's Savimbi proved extremely influential with the United States government, including the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Council and other governmental agencies. The Heritage Foundation presented its case for armed support for these movements, and United States support soon followed.

But Heritage Foundation foreign policy analysts didn't just champion the Reagan Doctrine in Washington. Some were deeply intertwined players in these conflicts, visiting the front lines to provide political and military guidance to Savimbi and the contra leadership. They also provided bold and inflammatory predictions that these conflicts were tugging on the very soul of global communism and that these Soviet-supported regimes and the Soviet Union itself were on the brink of collapse. This prediction, of course, looks surprisingly accurate in retrospect, but ignores the many other contributing factors to the collapse of communism.

The Foundation also leaped to the defense of Ronald Reagan's description of the former Soviet Union as an "evil empire," a description that generated wide global rebuke as potentially inviting nuclear conflict and, at the very least, further poisoning East-West relations. But with strong support by Heritage and other influential conservatives, Reagan stood by the statement, refusing to retract it until the Soviet Union began to crumble.

In an attempt to build on its foreign policy influence, the Foundation also engages in domestic and social policy issues, but its effort in these two areas has never quite matched the influence it wielded (in the late 1980s and early 1990s) in altering the debate over American foreign policy. Yet, the Foundation continues to weigh in on these topics with varying levels of success. One of its undeniable successes has been serving as a breeding ground for many of the nation's leading neo-conservative activists and intellectuals.

The following comments by former Republican Majority Leader Dick Armey, published in the summer 1994 issue of the Heritage Foundation's Policy Review, exemplify the Heritage philosophy:

"Liberation is at hand.... A paradigm-shattering revolution has just taken place. In the signal events of the 1980s - from the collapse of communism to the Reagan economic boom to the rise of the computer - the idea of economic freedom has been overwhelmingly vindicated. The intellectual foundation of statism has turned to dust. This revolution has been so sudden and sweeping that few in Washington have yet grasped its full meaning.... But when the true significance of the 1980s freedom revolution sinks in, politics, culture - indeed, the entire human outlook - will change.... Once this shift takes place - by 1996, I predict - we will be able to advance a true Hayekian agenda, including.... radical spending cuts, the end of the public school monopoly, a free market health-care system, and the elimination of the family-destroying welfare dole. Unlike 1944, history is now on the side of freedom."

The informational web site [1] is a "service of The Heritage Foundation," listing many of the world's leading conservative-leaning public policy experts. Additionally, for many years, its scholarly, quarterly publication, Policy Review, was widely viewed as one of the world's leading conservative public policy journals.

The Heritage Foundation has been home to some of the nation's most influential neo-conservative voices, especially in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The Foundation has since lost some of its luster, as some of its leading voices have graduated to other influential government and non-government careers. Still, the Foundation remains a conservative voice in Washington and around the world.

Meanwhile, there was also a connection between Heritage and the Rev Sun Myung Moon (founder of the Moonies). This first appeared in a 1975 congressional investigation on the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA) activities in the US.

The report noted, "In 1975, Ed Feulner ... was introduced to KCIA station chief Kim Yung Hwan by Neil Salonen and Dan Feffernan of the Freedom Leadership foundation".

Salonen was head of Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church in the United States. The Freedom Leadership Foundation (FLF), a political arm of Moon's Unification network, was linked to the World Anti- Communist League.

In the early 1980s, the KCIA began making donations to Heritage Foundation. In turn, Heritage established an Asian Studies Center.

Policy stances

Supporting nuclear power

An April 2009 memo by Heritage fellow Jack Spencer criticized the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, drafted by Representatives Ed Markey and Henry Waxman, for containing "virtually no mention of nuclear power." Spencer wrote, "If reducing carbon dioxide and other emissions, creating jobs, and promoting domestic energy sources were truly the objective, then nuclear energy should be central to the legislation." He went on to suggest how federal energy legislation should encourage nuclear power, including by instituting "a fast-track program for granting construction/operation permits for certain new plants" and allowing "nuclear waste producers to finance and manage their own spent nuclear fuel however they see fit so long as public health and safety is protected." [1]


Board of Trustees

As of June 2007:[2]

Honorary Trustees


As of June 2007:[3]


Senior management

Selected Fellows & other staff

Former Heritage Foundation personnel


The Heritage Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organisation. In its annual report it states that "we rely on the financial contributions of the gemeral public: individuals, foundations and corporations. We accept no government funds and perform no contract work."

Between 2001 and 2010, the Foundation received $3.38 million from the conservative Bradley Foundation[2].

2006 Budget

In calendar year 2006 the Heritage Foundation spent over $40.5 million on its operations. That year the foundation raised over $25 million from individual contributors and $13.1 million from foundations.

While corporations provided only $1.5 million - 4% of Heritage’s contributions in 2006 - they none the less have significant interest in the foundations policy output. There's defence contractors Boeing and Lockheed Martin, finance and insurance companies such as Allstate Insurance, Mortgage Insurance Companies of America, and American International Group (AIG), auto company Honda, tobacco company Altria Group (Philip Morris), drug and medical companies Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, and Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, oil companies ChevronTexaco and Exxon Mobil, software giant Microsoft, and chipping in over $100,000 each, Alticor (Amway), Pfizer, PhRMA, and United Parcel Service (UPS). [3]

Historical funding

Between 1985 and 2003, Media Transparency reports that the following funders provided $57,497,537 (unadjusted for inflation) to the Heritage Foundation [4]:

Right Web says of the Heritage Foundation:

"The foundation received $2. 2 million from the Federation of Korean Industries in the early 1980s. Initially it was believed this donation came from the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (which would make the Heritage Foundation a foreign agent of Korea), but the Federation later stated that the donation came at the encouragement of the KCIA."
"The Heritage Foundation's income has increased every year since 1981. The progression has been: 1981--$7. 1 million; 1982-$8. 6 million; 1983--$10. 6 million; 1984--$10. 7 million; 1985-$11. 6 million; 1986--$14. 0 million; 1987--$14. 3 million; and 1988--$14. 6 million. In 1988, foundations provided 38 percent of Heritage's income, individuals provided 34 percent, and corporations gave 17 percent; the remainder came from investments and sales of materials."[5]

Case studies

SourceWatch resources

Contact information

Heritage Foundation
214 Massachusetts Ave NE
Washington DC 20002-4999
Phone: 202.546.4400
Fax: 202.546.8328
Email: info AT

External links

For further information, see relevant Neocon Europe page Heritage Foundation


  1. Jack Spencer, "Where Is Nuclear Energy in the Markey-Waxman Energy Bill?,", April 7, 2009.
  2. Daniel Bice, Bill Glauber, Ben Poston. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. November 28, 2011.
  3. 2006 Annual Report, pg 29


  • Ronald Reagan, Remarks at a Dinnner Marking the Tenth Anniversary of The Heritage Foundation", October 3, 1983.
  • R. Bellant, The Coors Connection, Political Research Associates, 1990.
  • Norman Solomon, "The Media's Favorite Think Tank; How the Heritage Foundation Turns Money into Media", Extra!", July/August 1996.
  • John B. Judis, Business and the Rise of K Street, Routledge Press, 2001.
  • "Heritage Bolsters Its Republican Lineup", Washington Post, May 15, 2001. (Not available online).
  • Adam Clymer, "Bush Aide Accused of Having a Talk Canceled", New York Times, August 21, 2001. (Sub req'd).
  • Bill Berkowitz , "Heritage Foundation hawks: The lights are always on at America's elite conservative think tank", Working for Change, October 22, 2001.
  • Bill Berkowitz, "The Heritage Foundation buffs up: Readying a twenty-first century attack on 'liberal' social programs",, March 27, 2002.
  • Robert Borosage, "Questionable Heritage: Thirty Years Of A Right-Wing Think Tank",, February 13, 2003.
  • Brendan Nyhan, "The Heritage Foundation's dishonest "survey"", Spinsanity, February 27, 2003.
  • Edwin J. Feulner, Joe Coors, R.I.P., National Review, March 18, 2003.
  • "Paul Krugman, New York Times Columnist and Author of "The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way in the New Century"", Buzzflash, September 11, 2003. (Passing mention of the influence of Heritage Foundation).
  • Interhemispheric Resource Center, Heritage Foundation", RightWeb, November 22, 2003.
  • Heritage Foundation", Media Transparency, accessed October 2005.
  • Center for American Progress, "Continuing the Heritage of Distortion", Progress Report, January 9, 2004.
  • Ariana Eunjung Cha, "In Iraq, the Job Opportunity of a Lifetime: Managing a $13 Billion Budget With No Experience", Washington Post, May 23, 2004.
  • Thomas B. Edsall, "Think Tank's Ideas Shifted As Malaysia Ties Grew: Business Interests Overlapped Policy", Washington Post, April 17, 2005.
  • Jason Deparle, "Next Generation of Conservatives (By the Dormful)", New York Times, June 14, 2005.
  • Doug Ireland, "The Times hypes dangerous right-wing virginity study", Direland, June 15, 2005.
  • "Plotting Privatization?", zFacts, June 28, 2005.
  • Bill Berkowitz, "The Politics of Slander: With the president's poll numbers dropping and anti-Iraq war sentiment rising, the Heritage Foundation is sponsoring an event built around the premise that the anti-war movement is anti-American", Media Transparency, August 26, 2005.
  • Dana Milbank and Alan Cooperman, "Conservative Author Is Seeing Red in America", Washington Post, August 31, 2005.
  • Bill Berkowitz, "Heritage Foundation Capitalizes on Katrina: Washington, DC's premier right wing think tank puts forward a laundry list of conservative proposals to rebuild the Gulf Coast", MediaTransparency, September 15, 2005.
  • John R. Wilke and Brody Mullins, "After Katrina, Republicans Back a Sea of Conservative Ideas", Wall Street Journal, September 15, 2005. (Sub req'd).
  • Bill Berkowitz, "Is it a Massachusetts 'Miracle'?: The Heritage Foundation plays key role in a new health care initiative that promises to cover 95% of the state's uninsured", Media Transparency, May 8, 2006.
  • Jack Spencer, "Competitive Nuclear Energy Investment: Avoiding Past Policy Mistakes," Heritage Foundation backgrounder #2086, November 15, 2007.
  • Bill Berkowitz, "The Heritage Foundation at 35", Media Transparency, March 3, 2008.

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