The Long Arm (And Hidden Hand) of Jim DeMint in the ShowdownSubmitted by RandWatcher on Fri, 10/04/2013 - 17:05
By Shane Goldmacher | National Journal | October 1, 2013
In the story of how Obamacare went from the undisputed "law of the land," as Speaker John Boehner said last November, to a law Republicans say is worth shutting down the government to stop, Jim DeMint has been the unsung protagonist.
Past and present aides to the former South Carolina Republican senator, tea party lawmakers he helped elect, and the Heritage Foundation he now leads have their fingerprints all over the political thriller that has left the federal government hanging in the balance. The DeMint diaspora is driving the drama, both behind the scenes and in front of the cameras.
"He's sort of the granddaddy of this current fight," said Matt Kibbe, the president and CEO of FreedomWorks, a key tea party ally.
When DeMint abruptly resigned his Senate seat this January four years before the end of his term, some scoffed that he was cashing in, trading the influence of a senator for the paycheck of a lobbyist. His predecessor at Heritage had been paid $1 million a year and it is presumed DeMint is making at least that much. But that chatter has all but ceased.
"There's no question in my mind that I have more influence now on public policy than I did as an individual senator," DeMint told NPR last week.
In large part, that's a testament to the wide network of likeminded aides and lawmakers he's placed in positions of power across Washington. "DeMint has left a legacy on the Hill that is full of ripple effects – and they're good ones," said Chris Chocola, the president of the Club for Growth, which has spent millions in GOP primaries to elect unbending conservatives. "He broke the mold and showed what could happen and he inspired others to follow."