Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint hasn't officially been dethroned but his fingerprints seem like they're already disappearing from the think tank's sprawling Capitol Hill campus.
DeMint loyalists have begun turning in their resignations. And according to sources close to the situation, at least one group vice president, James Wallner, was placed on administrative leave without explanation on Monday evening.
Wallner came to the Heritage Foundation last July, assuming a position that was formerly occupied by Vice President Dick Cheney's former legal counsel, David Addington. Many have criticized the production of policy papers since Wallner took control, charging that the quality of research has flagged.
During a Saturday Twitter storm, Wallner vehemently disputed that charge listing a number of the organization's research achievements. "We need to resist the urge to turn everyone with whom we disagree into Catiline," he wrote referring to an infamous Roman senator who tried to overthrow the Roman Republic.
More than an esoteric reference, it seemed Wallner was offering a rebuttal to claims that DeMint had co-opted the think-tank for political purposes. The southern firebrand is reportedly being forced out of office after wrangling with the organization's lobbying arm and losing the faith of the think tank's board of directors.
The coup at the conservative think tanks has mostly played out in the press. Other than a warning not to speak to the press, Heritage has issued no official statement to its employees or the public. But by Monday evening, subtle signs suggested that DeMint's long shadow was quickly receding.
One of the branches that DeMint founded during his tenure, the Policy Services Department, began scaling back outreach to congressional offices, inexplicably canceling a long-standing policy meeting on Capitol Hill.
"Today's meeting of the Monday Group has been cancelled," Congressional Outreach Program Manager, Caitlin Thompson wrote in an 11:20 AM email obtained by the Washington Examiner. "I'm sorry for the late notice. We will contact you in the coming days to reschedule the meeting."
That department's Twitter account was suddenly deleted Monday afternoon. A search for @HeritageOTH, an account that provided lawmakers with updates to Heritage policy, turned up nothing.
Spokesmen for the Heritage Foundation and the Policy Services Department did not return requests for comment by press time.
Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.