Heritage Foundation

The creation of the influential Heritage Foundation was probably the single most important event in the development of a national network of conservative policy-oriented institutions.

Heritage was founded in 1973 by the anti-labor, racist, homophobic brewery magnate Joseph Coors together with prominent right-wing activist Paul Weyrich and wealthy right-wingers Richard Scaife and Edward Noble.

Conservative activist Paul Weyrich was its first head. Since 1977, Heritage's president has been Edwin Feulner, Jr., previously the staff director of the House Republican Study Committee and a former staff assistant to U.S. Congressman Phil Crane

In 1989, Edwin Feulner was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second highest civilian award in the United States awarded by Ronald Reagan. He is also past president and current Treasurer and Trustee of the Mont Pelerin Society.

In May of 2007 Feulner wrote an editorial titled "Our right to go to war"

The initial funding came from Coors ($250,000), Scaife ($900,000), and "significant sums" from Noble. Large corporations, including Gulf Oil, also made early contributions. In the early 1980s, Heritage reported that "87 top corporations" were supporters. By 1995, it had an annual budget of $25 million.

The Heritage Foundation is a New Right think tank. Its stated mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of "free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense." It is widely considered one of the world's most influential public policy research institutes.

The Foundation wields considerable influence in Washington, and enjoyed particular prominence during the Reagan administration. Its initial funding was provided by Joseph Coors, of the Coors beer empire, and Richard Mellon Scaife, heir of the Mellon industrial and banking fortune. The Foundation maintains strong ties with the London Institute of Economic Affairs and the Mont Pelerin Society.

With a long history of receiving large donations from overseas, Heritage continues to rake in a minimum of several hundred thousand dollars from Taiwan and South Korea each year.

In autumn of 1988, the South Korean National Assembly uncovered a document revealing that Korean intelligence gave $2.2 million to the Heritage Foundation on the sly during the early 1980s. Heritage officials "categorically deny" the accusation.

Heritage's latest annual report does acknowledge a $400,000 grant from the Korean conglomerate Samsung. Another donor, the Korea Foundation - which conduits money from the South Korean government - has given Heritage almost $1 million in the past three years.

The Heritage Foundation concerns itself with many issues, from missile defense to Europe to public administration, and about 20 other subject areas. It regularly publishes comprehensive articles, papers, journals, etc., expressing its strong neo-conservative opinions in these subject areas.

While the Foundation has contributed many ideas and positions on contemporary public policy, it is best known for the support generated by its foreign policy analysts in the 1980s and early 1990s to provide military and other support to anti-communist resistance movements in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Nicaragua and other nations, a policy that came to be known as the Reagan doctrine.

In a February 2003 paper, the ultra-right Heritage Foundation urged continuing pressure on Venezuela to restructure its economy to promote private enterprise and investment, and called on international organizations supported by the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to “continue to advise the full spectrum of Venezuela’s political parties, civic groups and unions.”(link)

The CIA also helped create the conservative think tank movement. Prior to the 70s, think tanks spanned the political spectrum, with moderate think tanks receiving three times as much funding as conservative ones. At these early think tanks, scholars typically brainstormed for creative solutions to policy problems. This would all change after the rise of conservative foundations in the early 70s.

The Heritage Foundation opened its doors in 1973, the recipient of $250,000 in seed money from the Coors Foundation. A flood of conservative think tanks followed shortly thereafter, and by 1980 they overwhelmed the scene. The new think tanks turned out to be little more than propaganda mills, rigging studies to "prove" that their corporate sponsors needed tax breaks, deregulation and other favors from government.

Heritage has received support from nearly 100 major corporations, including Chase Manhattan Bank, Dow Chemical Company, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, GlaxoSmithKline, Mobil, and Procter & Gamble

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