Jim DeMint has resigned as president of the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank announced Tuesday.
"The Heritage Foundation's Board of Trustees, by a unanimous vote, has asked for and received the resignation of Jim DeMint as president and CEO of the organization," it said in a statement. "The board elected Heritage Founder Ed Feulner as president and CEO while we conduct a thorough search for his successor."
The statement, from Thomas A. Saunders III, the chairman of Heritage's Board of Trustees, cited "significant and worsening management issues."
"After a comprehensive and independent review of the entire Heritage organization, the board determined there were significant and worsening management issues that led to a breakdown of internal communications and cooperation," Saunders said. "While the organization has seen many successes, Jim DeMint and a handful of his closest advisers failed to resolve these problems."
Sources close to Heritage Action clarified that sentiment earlier, arguing that DeMint ran Heritage like more of a giant Senate office than think tank. That management, they maintain, led to an overly political policy shop and an underprepared lobbying arm.
DeMint loyalists, including Heritage Vice President of Research James Wallner, vehemently disputed that charge. Before being placed on administrative leave, Wallner posted a series of Tweets listing the think tanks scholarly achievements during his short tenure. He was placed on administrative leave without explanation on Monday.
And on Tuesday conservative lawmakers didn't take kindly to the public statement. "Wow," one Republican told the Washington Examiner, speaking on condition of anonymity, "what a brutal, ungracious statement by Heritage."
Feulner, who served as president before DeMint, will return "to guide the ship while we seek our new leader and continue to push for conservative ideas and policies in Washington and around the nation."
"This was a difficult and necessary decision for the board to take," Saunders said, officially ending more than four days of speculation.
"Feulner led Heritage for more than three decades and returns to our organization after serving on President Trump's transition team," he added. "There is no one better to guide the ship while we seek our new leader and continue to push for conservative ideas and policies in Washington and around the nation."
Before joining the think tank in 2012, DeMint was a conservative Republican senator from South Carolina. He left abruptly, giving up a post in Congress for a perch at the think tank.
Since Politico broke news Friday that DeMint was on his way out, Heritage has remained tight-lipped, issuing no public statements. Many of the think tanks own employees report not knowing what to expect when reporting to work.
During a Tuesday all-staff meeting, called to address "unfounded media speculation," employees learned that Politico's report was correct. DeMint was out. Several of the senators loyalists have pledged to leave Heritage with him.
More than one staffer left Heritage, telling the Washington Examiner that they were in the process of looking for new jobs. About half-a-dozen Heritage employees left the think tank's imposing Capitol Hill campus with their old boss to grab a beer.
For a man forced out of a job, DeMint seemed in good spirits Tuesday evening. "You can't beat it. This is as good as it gets in Washington," he told the Washington Examiner, opting to talk about the balmy weather rather than the day's dour events.
"You know," he said after a pause, "I'm in good shape."