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Jim DeMint's new job promises a much bigger payday

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December 07, 2012|By James Rainey
  • Sen. Jim DeMint speaks at Tommy's Ham House in Greenville, S.C., in 2007.
Sen. Jim DeMint speaks at Tommy's Ham House in Greenville, S.C., in… (Tim Dominick / The State/MCT )

Jim DeMint has mentioned several reasons he will leave the U.S. Senate in January to lead the Heritage Foundation think tank.

The South Carolina senator told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer he looked forward to heading what he called America’s premier center for conservative thought. DeMint said the new job would let him employ the research skills of his old professional life as a marketing consultant.

He said he looked forward to better framing conservative arguments -- claiming Republicans lost ground in the recent election not because of their ideology but because they didn’t explain their positions in a compelling way to win over Americans.

DeMint, a favorite of tea party activists, stands to gain in another sense when he leaves Congress after six years in the House and seven years in the Senate.

The 61-year-old lawmaker will chuck his $174,000 government salary in favor of a much more lucrative paycheck from Heritage. While the organization did not say how much it would pay DeMint, predecessor Edwin J. Feulner earned total compensation of about $1 million a year, according to the Charity Navigator website.

The South Carolinian previously seems to have walked the walk when it came to tea party movement’s disdain for elected officials who profit excessively from their public service. The Washington Post’s Capitol Assets blog estimated DeMint’s wealth at just over $40,000. That compared in 2010 to a Senate median of $2.6 million.

The political realities of his home state -- where Republican governor Nikki Haley will appoint another GOPer to replace DeMint -- allowed the lawmaker to make his move without fear of costing his party a seat in the closely divided Senate.

Some of his GOP colleagues in Congress may be softening on the idea of increasing taxes to dodge a year-end budget crisis in Washington, but DeMint signaled in his interview with Blitzer on Thursday that he is not about to change.

“This government doesn’t need any more money. This country needs less government,” DeMint said. “We are going to have historic levels of revenue to the government this year, but we have doubled spending in the last 10 years."

Now DeMint’s opposition to increased taxes on the wealthiest Americans promises to align not only with his soul but with his pocketbook.

james.rainey@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimesrainey

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