Heritage Action

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  (Redirected from Heritage Action for America)

Heritage Action
Heritage Action logo.svg
Type501(c)4 organization
PurposeLobbying and advocacy
HeadquartersWashington, DC
Executive Director
Jessica Anderson
Vice president
Garrett Bess
AffiliationsThe Heritage Foundation
Decrease $10,239,032 (2017)
Increase $11,987,038 (2016) [1]

Heritage Action for America, more commonly known simply as Heritage Action, is a conservative policy advocacy organization founded in 2010.[2] Heritage Action, which has affiliates throughout the United States,[3][4] is a sister organization of the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation.[4][5] Heritage Action has been called a "powerhouse in a new generation of conservative groups"[6] and "perhaps now the most influential lobby group among Congressional Republicans."[7] Executive director Jessica Anderson has led the organization since April 2020.[8]

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. The organization played an instrumental role in the government shutdown of October 2013.

Background and history

Heritage Action was first announced in April 2010 by Ed Feulner, the then 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.[9] Heritage Action's goal was to expand the political reach of The Heritage Foundation and advance the policies recommended by its researchers.[10]

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.[11]

Heritage Action began with a staff of ten, including original chief executive officer Michael A. Needham and Timothy Chapman.[12][13] Chapman become executive director in May 2018[14] following Needham's departure.[15] Chapman had previously served as Heritage Action's chief operating officer and as chief of staff to Heritage Foundation President Ed J. Feulner. Chapman left the organization in March 2020.

Jessica Anderson has led the organization since 2020. Jessica Anderson first joined Heritage Action in 2010 and served as grassroots director, but left in 2017 to serve in the Office of Management and Budget in the Trump Administration.[16] She returned to Heritage Action as vice president in 2018[17] before being named executive director in 2020.[8]


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.[11] 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 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.[21] The organization played an instrumental role in the government shutdown of October 2013.[22][23] 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.[21] 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.[24] Senator Orrin Hatch criticized Heritage for warning legislators not to vote for the Senate budget compromise during the government shutdown.[25]

The group is also known for their congressional scorecard, which scores members of Congress on "votes, co-sponsorships and other legislative activity."[26]

Heritage Action maintains a grassroots presence outside of D.C. with professional grassroots coordinators who recruit and train conservative "Sentinel" activists.[27] In 2020, Heritage Action's grassroots work included door-to-door issue canvassing in Iowa, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.[28] Due to the coronavirus, some of these efforts were transitioned for a time to phone calls. In August 2020, Heritage Action launched a pro-police pledge "for citizens, lawmakers and candidates to stand with [the] nation’s law enforcement officers."[29] Over 100 members of Congress signed the pledge.[30] The pledge was accompanied by the group's pro-police billboards in New York City, Dallas, and Atlanta.[30]

Following the 2020 presidential election, Heritage Action drafted and lobbied in favor of new election legislation as part of Republican efforts to tighten election laws. In a leaked video of a presentation to donors, executive director Jessica Anderson cited the example of Iowa, where "we did it quickly and we did it quietly...Little fanfare. Honestly, nobody even noticed. My team looked at each other and we’re like, ‘It can’t be that easy'."[31] As part of this effort, the group has maintained a database of 1,322 "proven instances of voter fraud," though it dates to the mid-1980s but contained only one instance from the 2020 election, and included cases of fraudulent voter registration rather than voting.[32]


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.[33] Heritage Action generally does not disclose its donors but did, in 2013, confirm a $500,000 donation made by the Koch brothers.[34][31]


  1. ^ Heritage Action For America – Nonprofit Explorer – ProPublica
  2. ^ "Heritage Action for America". Library of Congress. Retrieved April 14, 2020.
  3. ^ Woodruff, Betsy (June 27, 2013). "Heritage Action vs. the Immigration Bill". National Review. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Rob Christensen (January 11, 2011). "Heritage Foundation sinks its roots in N.C." The News & Observer. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  5. ^ Weber, Joseph (August 24, 2010). "Hybrid groups using freedom, cash clout; Conservatives purchase ads,start petitions". The Washington Times. Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  6. ^ Fineman, Howard (October 9, 2013). "Heritage Action Bails On Debt Ceiling Fight". The Huffington Post.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ a b "Jessica Anderson Named Executive Director of Heritage Action for…". Heritage Action For America. Retrieved August 17, 2020.
  9. ^ Ed Feulner (April 9, 2010). "Morning Bell: Heritage Action for America". Morning Bell. The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ a b Smithwick, Benjamin (July 5, 2010). "The Fight to Repeal Obamacare". Human Events.com. Retrieved January 17, 2011.
  12. ^ "Heritage Launches Grassroots Advocacy Group". States News Service. April 8, 2010. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
  13. ^ bsmithwick (July 5, 2010). "The Fight to Repeal Obamacare". Human Events. The Human Events Group. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
  14. ^ https://heritageaction.com/press/heritage-action-names-tim-chapman-executive-director Executive Director
  15. ^ "Rubio Announces Mike Needham as New Chief of Staff". U.S. Senator for Florida, Marco Rubio.
  16. ^ "Heritage Action Staff". Heritage Action For America. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
  17. ^ "Heritage Action Announces New Vice President". Heritage Action For America.
  18. ^ Gizzi, John (August 27, 2010). "Sen. Chuck Hagel Strikes Again". Human Events.com. 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. ^ a b Moody, Chris (October 9, 2013). "Meet one of the conservative advocacy groups behind the GOP's government shutdown strategy". Yahoo! News.
  22. ^ Joseph, Cameron (October 9, 2013). "Heritage Action leader: Paul Ryan's shutdown offer off-target". The Hill.
  23. ^ Miller, Zeke J (September 30, 2013). "Hidden Hand: How Heritage Action Drove DC To Shut Down". Time.
  24. ^ McCormack, John (October 9, 2013). "Heritage Action's Shutdown Strategy". The Weekly Standard. Archived from the original on October 14, 2013.
  25. ^ Taylor, Jessica (October 17, 2013). "GOP senator: Heritage in danger of not amounting to 'anything anymore'". MSNBC.
  26. ^ "Dave Brat: Meet the Candidate Who Beat Eric Cantor". ABC News. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  27. ^ Baigert, Laura (June 22, 2017). "Heritage Action Sentinels, An Active Force To Be Reckoned With in Middle Tennessee, Expanding". Tennessee Star. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  28. ^ "PoliticsPA". Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  29. ^ "Heritage Action Launches Police Pledge; New Poll Shows 4 out of 5…". Heritage Action For America. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  30. ^ a b Bowden, John (September 14, 2020). "Conservative group Heritage Action launches pro-police billboards in three cities". TheHill. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  31. ^ a b Berman, Ari; Surgey, Nick. "Leaked Video: Dark Money Group Brags About Writing GOP Voter Suppression Bills Across the Country". Mother Jones. Retrieved May 14, 2021.
  32. ^ Bump, Philip (May 14, 2021). "Group that can't find systemic voter fraud eager to help combat systemic voter fraud". The Washington Post.
  33. ^ "More than Kochs, Small Donors Fueled Heritage Action in 2012 – OpenSecrets Blog". Opensecrets.org. October 24, 2013. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  34. ^ Mohseni, Saad (October 9, 2013). "Koch Bros. donate to Heritage Action". Politico. Retrieved May 17, 2017.

External links