Allies of former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) on Capitol Hill are circulating a letter praising his influence in the conservative movement as the firebrand faces imminent ouster as president from the Heritage Foundation, according to multiple sources.
The letter, which is being led by Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker of North Carolina, has already collected more a dozen signatures from conservative lawmakers. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) is also involved in the effort.
“While we’ve not always agreed with every decision — your character, competence and integrity are unblemished in the political arena,” reads a draft of the letter, obtained by POLITICO. “In this rhetoric-driven time of divisive behavior, you have added solutions to an honest critique.”
As the leader of the conservative think tank, “your impact has reached far beyond the political arena impacting the very culture of conservative thought in the 21st century,” the letter continues. “Your steadfast devotion to the principles you have stood with us to advocate for, and the as yet unseen impact of the wisdom you have instilled in so many, already stand as a testament to your true accomplishments.”
The letter is being circulated to House and Senate offices and may be released on Friday afternoon or Monday, depending on when Heritage and DeMint officially part ways, according to a source working on the matter.
The letter is being distributed to conservative lawmakers before it’s brought to party leaders.
DeMint was a high-profile agitator in the Senate, supporting conservative primary challengers to candidates backed by the party establishment. He even backed an opponent of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) after she lost her primary but won reelection on a write-in campaign.
The rock-ribbed conservative legislator famously said he’d rather have “30 Marco Rubios than 60 Arlen Specters” in the GOP conference. He left the Senate for Heritage on the cusp of taking the top Republican slot on the Senate Commerce Committee, a role that would have tested his ability to govern from the party’s right flank.
Jake Sherman contributed to this report.