South Carolina Republican U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint is resigning his post (copy) (copy)

Former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.

File/AP

South Carolina's Jim DeMint could soon be out of a job that helped elect a president, according to multiple media reports Friday.

First reported by Politico, the former U.S. senator from South Carolina and tea party leader is expected to be ousted by the board of the Heritage Foundation — the storied conservative Washington, D.C., think tank.

Spokesmen for the Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action, the advocacy group associated with the think tank, did not immediately return requests for comment Friday.

U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., however, confirmed to The Post and Courier he also had heard of the rumblings, which took him by surprise.

"Jim will be thoroughly missed," said Sanford, a member of the Heritage-aligned, conservative House Freedom Caucus. "He’s always 'walked the walk' when it comes to conservative philosophy and in that regard made a real difference in the U.S. Senate and the Heritage Foundation. I wish him well in life’s next chapter."

DeMint raised eyebrows in 2012 by cutting his Senate term short to become the organization's president. His stated objective in taking the position was to drive conservative policy from the outside in order to make a difference on the inside.

He saw perhaps the ultimate realization of his goal last year, getting in on the ground floor of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Heritage has since been credited with significantly shaping the new administration's policy positions and the makeup of its Cabinet.

Mere hours after the Politico story published, Trump became the first sitting president to address the National Rifle Association Convention since Ronald Reagan, using the occasion to praise both the Heritage Foundation and DeMint by name.

Sign up for updates!

Get the latest political news from The Post and Courier in your inbox.


"I want to thank, really, Heritage and I want to thank also all of the people that worked there," Trump said. "Jim DeMint has been amazing. They've been real friends."

DeMint's success in expanding the think tank's conservative brand has reportedly resulted in a current rift with the Heritage Foundation's board, which is expected to lead to his ouster. According to reports, board members used contract negotiations to air grievances about DeMint's efforts to make the group too political and ideological, at the expense of its original mission to focus on policy. His contract wasn't going to be renewed, reports said.

DeMint's contract as president is set to expire at the end of this year. His salary topped $1 million, according to the foundation's tax filing.

DeMint, of Greenville, was the state's 4th District congressman from 1998-2004 until he was elected to the Senate. He stepped down in 2012.  

 

Reach Caitlin Byrd at 843-937-5590 and follow her on Twitter @MaryCaitlinByrd.

Political Reporter

Caitlin Byrd is a political reporter at The Post and Courier and author of the Palmetto Politics newsletter. Before moving to Charleston in 2016, her byline appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times. To date, Byrd has won 17 awards for her work.