But is hiring Addington as much about a second act for Heritage as it is for Cheney’s former chief of staff? The organization is undergoing lots of changes. Last year it created a lobbying arm, Heritage Action for America, a separate affiliate with a 501(c)(4)status, a provision in the tax code that permits nonprofits to lobby and engage in political campaigns. “The decision to create the (c)(4) is one of the two or three really big moments in Heritage,” says Michael Franc, the think tank’s vice president of government studies. “It puts us in a new direction: to have the ability to have a sister organization that can organize and target congressional districts and get people to call their members. That is huge.” “One of Ed Feulner’s admonishments to us is that the competition is not standing still,” Franc notes. “We needed to find a way to go outside of the Beltway and touch the hearts and minds of a lot of people outside Washington so they in turn could reach their elected representatives in a more direct way. It is an inside/outside game.”
Feulner is quick to boast of Heritage’s broad-based membership, which contributed $72 million in 2009 and, he suggests, gave the think tank lots more muscle than others have: “We have 704,000 members around the country, which means we can reach out with somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 members in the average congressional district. We are not talking about a bunch of eggheads in tweed jackets and pipes. We are talking about real people in your district who not only share our broad views but who are financially supporting us.”
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