Posted by Erick Erickson
Behind the subscriber firewall at the Wall Street Journal, Ed Feulner and Michael Needham just launched a major assault against the left that has many on the left soiling their collectivist selves today.
The sleeping giant that is the Heritage Foundation has woken up. Feulner is the President of the Heritage Foundation and Needham is CEO of Heritage Action for America.
For a few years, the right sat on the sidelines while groups like Center for American Progress and other leftwing agitation and noise machines set up 501(c)(4) groups tied into 501(c)(3) groups. The tax code was murky at best and the left took risks while the right sat it out. Many a right-of-center lawyer advised caution while the left damned the torpedoes and went full speed ahead.
Consequently, most major advocacy groups on the 501(c)4) books with a concurrent (c)(3) are leftwing.
The catch is that a (c)(3) can do no political advocacy, just education. But a (c)(3) gets tax deductible contributions. A (c)(4) does not get tax deductible contributions, but it can do much more aggressive advocacy in the political arena. Tying the two together so you get both the brains of the (c)(3) fueled by charitable contributions and the muscle of the (c)(4) fueled by relatively anonymous non-deductible contributions while preserving the tax-deductible nature of the (c)(3) has been the holy grail for think tanks.
The left has been successful in setting up, for example, Center for American Progress, but it is not exactly a think tank. It recycles left-wing ideas through poll tested messaging, but otherwise does not actually generate anything like the wealth of original ideas Heritage does.
In fact, one of the key points the left has used to attack Heritage is some of Heritage’s ideas that were incorporated into Obamacare — the danger of a think tank thinking outside pre-approved political party talking points.
Well, Heritage is today announcing it is creating a 501(c)(4) advocacy group. The reason the left is so fearful and Media Matters and the gang are furiously scribbling their crayons into nubs of wax is because Heritage is so established across the nation.
As Feulner and Needham note:
Heritage Action will have the ability to create this pressure. There are 110 congressional districts in America with over 1,500 Heritage supporters apiece. Two-thirds of congressional districts in this country have over 1,000 Heritage members each. Now they will have an advocacy organization that can press Congress on their behalf.
The closest the left has is unions. But union members are largely forced against their will or coerced to join. With Heritage, all those supporters in each congressional district are there by chioce.
And that makes the Heritage Foundation now a very dangerous beast.
You can find out more about Heritage Action for America by going here.