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Heritage Action for America, more commonly known simply as Heritage Action, is a conservative policy advocacy organization founded in 2010.[1] Heritage Action, which has affiliates throughout the United States,[2][3] is a sister organization of the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation.[3][4] Heritage Action has been called a "powerhouse in a new generation of conservative groups"[5] and "perhaps now the most influential lobby group among Congressional Republicans."[6] The organization has been led by executive director Tim Chapman since May 2018.[7]

Heritage Action
Heritage Action logo.svg
Type501(c)4 organization
PurposeLobbying and advocacy
HeadquartersWashington, DC
Executive director
Tim Chapman
Vice president
Jessica Anderson
AffiliationsThe Heritage Foundation


Background and historyEdit

Heritage Action was first announced in April 2010 by Ed Feulner, president of The Heritage Foundation. He stated the purpose of the organization was to harness "grassroots energy to increase the pressure on Members of Congress to embrace The Heritage Foundation’s policy recommendations." He also said it would not be involved in election campaigns.[8] Heritage Action's goal was to expand the political reach of The Heritage Foundation and advance the policies recommended by its researchers.[9]

The organization was launched primarily as a response to The Heritage Foundation's growing membership, and the fact that The Heritage Foundation is not allowed to back legislation due to its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. Heritage Action fulfills this role and provides a link between the think tank and grassroots conservative activists.[10]

Officials at The Heritage Foundation began engaging in political advocacy following the March 2010 passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[9][11] As a 501(c)3 organization, the think tank cannot engage in direct lobbying, so it created Heritage Action to serve as its lobbying and advocacy arm.[12]

Heritage Action began with a staff of ten, including original chief executive officer Michael A. Needham and Timothy Chapman.[13][14] Chapman become executive director in May 2018[15] following Needham's taking a chief of staff position for Senator Marco Rubio[16] in April. Chapman had previously served as Heritage Action's chief operating officer and as chief of staff to Heritage Foundation President Ed J. Feulner. Jessica Anderson, formerly employed at the Office of Management and Budget, took over the Vice President roll from Dan Holler in June, 2018.[17]


Heritage Action launched its first advocacy campaign in July 2010, targeting Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), President Barack Obama's health care reform law.[10] By August 2010 the organization had helped to secure 170 Republican co-sponsors for a petition by Rep. Steve King to force a vote on repealing the healthcare reform.[18] Following this, in September 2010, the group began a 10-day television and web campaign to persuade Democrats to sign onto a repeal of the law.[19] The group opened its state operations in North Carolina and Pennsylvania in January 2011, specifically to focus on mobilizing voters against the health care law.[20]

Heritage Action for America previously produced the radio show Istook Live!, hosted by former Oklahoma congressman Ernest Istook.[21][22]

Heritage Action launched a campaign in August 2013 to link the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as the ACA or "Obamacare", with laws to keep the federal government open or to increase the federal debt limit.[23] The organization played an instrumental role in the government shutdown of October 2013.[24][25] While the shutdown was ongoing Heritage Action continued to urge lawmakers not to negotiate a measure to fully fund the government without dismantling the ACA.[23] The strategy of Heritage Action in tying the ACA to the shutdown, according to then-CEO Michael Needham, was to make President Obama "feel pain" because of the shutdown.[26] Senator Orrin Hatch criticized Heritage for warning legislators not to vote for the Senate budget compromise during the government shutdown.[27]

Relationship with Donald TrumpEdit

On July 19, 2015, Heritage Action's then-CEO Michael A. Needham publicly criticized then Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, saying "Donald Trump's a clown. He needs to be out of the race" on Fox News Sunday.[28] On September 18, 2015, Trump cancelled his scheduled appearance at Heritage Action's candidate forum in Greenville, South Carolina, citing a "significant business transaction."[29] Then on November 22, 2015, Needham publicly praised Trump. "I think that part of Donald Trump's attraction is that he's provided bold leadership," Needham said on Fox News Sunday. "I think Trump is driven by people who want bold leadership."[30] Trump publicly thanked Needham the following day, tweeting "Thank you for your nice words @MikeNeedham...”[31] According to a March 8, 2016, article in The Washington Post, Needham said "A Trump election or nomination is a complete vindication that Washington needs to change."[32]

Heritage Action committed to spending $2.5 million on election advertising to support Republican Congressional candidates in the 2018 House of Representatives elections.[33]


Heritage Action is supported by individual and corporate donors, with its 2012 tax return indicating that 44 percent of its overall contributions came from donations of $5,000 or less that year.[34] At a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in October 2013, Needham stated that Heritage Action was "not being transparent" with their donors. They have generally declined to disclose who their donors are.[35] One exception to this was a donation from conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch; the Koch brothers donated half a million dollars in October 2013.[35]


  1. ^ May, Caroline (June 17, 2010). "Heritage spin-off targets ObamaCare in first grassroots campaign". The Daily Caller. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  2. ^ Woodruff, Betsy (June 27, 2013). "Heritage Action vs. the Immigration Bill". National Review. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Rob Christensen (January 11, 2011). "Heritage Foundation sinks its roots in N.C." The News & Observer. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  4. ^ Weber, Joseph (August 24, 2010). "Hybrid groups using freedom, cash clout; Conservatives purchase ads,start petitions". The Washington Times. Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  5. ^ Fineman, Howard (October 9, 2013). "Heritage Action Bails On Debt Ceiling Fight". The Huffington Post.
  6. ^ Martin, Jonathan; Rutenberg, Jim; Peters, Jeremy W. (October 19, 2013). "Fiscal Crisis Sounds the Charge in G.O.P.'s 'Civil War'". The New York Times.
  7. ^ "Heritage Action Names Tim Chapman Executive Director". Heritage Action. May 22, 2018. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  8. ^ Ed Feulner (April 9, 2010). "Morning Bell: Heritage Action for America". Morning Bell. The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  9. ^ a b Suzy Khimm (January 25, 2013). "Heritage Action's Distinct Lobbying Plan". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
  10. ^ a b Smithwick, Benjamin (July 5, 2010). "The Fight to Repeal Obamacare". Human Retrieved January 17, 2011.
  11. ^ Matea Gold and Lori Montgomery (September 5, 2013). "Heritage's New Tactics a Hit with Base, but Not Hill GOP". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
  12. ^ Bethany Mandel (December 6, 2012). "Jim DeMint and the Heritage Identity". Commentary Magazine. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
  13. ^ "Heritage Launches Grassroots Advocacy Group". States News Service. April 8, 2010. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
  14. ^ bsmithwick (July 5, 2010). "The Fight to Repeal Obamacare". Human Events. The Human Events Group. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
  15. ^ Executive Director
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ Gizzi, John (August 27, 2010). "Sen. Chuck Hagel Strikes Again". Human Retrieved January 17, 2011.
  19. ^ Arsenault, Mark (September 11, 2010). "GOP focus is jobs, not health care; Candidates mostly avoid issue party pledged to hammer". The Boston Globe. Retrieved February 24, 2017.
  20. ^ Budoff-Brown, Carrie (January 7, 2011). "Anti-Reform Dems Cool to Repeal Vote". The News & Observer. Retrieved February 24, 2017.
  21. ^ "Tuesday, July 10, 2012". Talkers. July 10, 2012. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
  22. ^ "Heritage Action for America Launches 'Istook Live!' Radio Show". Entertainment Close-Up. July 13, 2012. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  23. ^ a b Moody, Chris (October 9, 2013). "Meet one of the conservative advocacy groups behind the GOP's government shutdown strategy". Yahoo! News.
  24. ^ Joseph, Cameron (October 9, 2013). "Heritage Action leader: Paul Ryan's shutdown offer off-target". The Hill.
  25. ^ Miller, Zeke J (September 30, 2013). "Hidden Hand: How Heritage Action Drove DC To Shut Down". Time.
  26. ^ McCormack, John (October 9, 2013). "Heritage Action's Shutdown Strategy". The Weekly Standard. Archived from the original on October 14, 2013.
  27. ^ Taylor, Jessica (October 17, 2013). "GOP senator: Heritage in danger of not amounting to 'anything anymore'". MSNBC.
  28. ^ "Fox panel dines out on Trump comments," by Evan McMurry, Mediaite, July 19, 2015, retrieved November 30, 2016.
  29. ^ Parker, Ryan (September 18, 2015). "Donald Trump Cancels Campaign Appearance Over "Significant Business Transaction"". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 9, 2017.
  30. ^ "How would President Rubio wage the war on terror?; Exclusive: Rush Limbaugh talks terror attack, refugee crisis,” transcript, Fox News Sunday, November 22, 2015. Retrieved February 9, 2017.
  31. ^ @realdonaldtrump (Tweet), via Twitter, November 23, 2017, retrieved February 9, 2017.
  32. ^ Viebeck, Elise (March 8, 2016). "Michael Needham was stoking fear in Republicans long before Donald Trump". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on October 24, 2016. Retrieved February 24, 2017.
  33. ^
  34. ^ "More than Kochs, Small Donors Fueled Heritage Action in 2012 - OpenSecrets Blog". October 24, 2013. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  35. ^ a b Mohseni, Saad (October 9, 2013). "Koch Bros. donate to Heritage Action". Politico. Retrieved May 17, 2017.

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