CPI is led by Senator Jim DeMint, who has spent his career serving in and building up the modern conservative movement. He and his team of veteran staff have over 50 years of combined Capitol Hill experience, and a shared mission of helping conservatives of all stripes become successful.

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Jim DeMint

DeMint represented South Carolina in the U.S. House (1999-2005) and U.S. Senate (2005-2013). Known for policy entrepreneurship, he authored leading conservative reforms to health care, education, taxes, and entitlements. DeMint garnered national acclaim from conservatives for leading efforts to ban congressional earmarks, which had been the source of billions of dollars of wasteful spending for decades and led to corruption and widespread abuse. He also successfully led the fight to stop the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill in 2007.

He is the Founder of the Senate Conservatives Fund, which played a major role in the election of many of the Senate’s leading conservatives like Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson, Pat Toomey, Ben Sasse, and Tom Cotton. He also served as the President of The Heritage Foundation for four years, taking the organization to new heights of influence. Under DeMint’s direction, Heritage played a major role in the Trump transition, with the policy series “Mandate for Leadership” used as the basis for the President’s first budget and numerous other administration reforms. During DeMint’s tenure, Heritage partnered with the Federalist Society to create a list of possible Supreme Court judicial nominations that culminated in the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch.

He is the author of the books Now or Never: Saving America from Economic Collapse (Center Street, 2012); The Great American Awakening: Two Years that Changed America, Washington and Me (B&H, 2011); and Saving Freedom: We Can Stop America’s Slide into Socialism (Fidelis, 2009). His first book, with co-author J. David Woodard, is Why We Whisper: Restoring Our Right to Say It’s Wrong (Rowman & Littlefield, 2007). His latest book, Falling in Love with America Again (Center Street, 2014) debuted at #1 on The Washington Post bestseller list. DeMint and his wife, Debbie, have four children who now are grown and married. They’ve taken a shine to being grandparents.

Follow Senator DeMint on Twitter at @JimDeMint.

Wesley Denton

Denton has 17 years of Capitol Hill experience and is widely respected as one of the most skilled communications experts in the conservative movement. During more than a decade of service on Capitol Hill, he served as communications director for Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) from 2005 to 2013 and for Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) from 2002-2005.  He also served as a press assistant to the U.S. House Armed Services Committee in 2001.

Beginning in 2013, Denton worked at The Heritage Foundation as a senior policy advisor and launched the American Perceptions Initiative, a research project devoted to understanding how Americans view conservative policies and ways to better communicate their benefits to the individual. He went on to become group vice president of communications, where he oversaw the organization’s public relations, digital, video and marketing teams, as well as The Daily Signal, a leading conservative news outlet.

Denton was born in Evansville, IN, and grew up in Beaufort, SC. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Clemson University. He and his wife, Kari, have four children and reside in Virginia.

Follow Wesley on Twitter at @WesleyDenton.

Rachel Bovard

Bovard has over a decade of experience fighting for conservative policies in Washington. Beginning in 2006, she served in both the House and Senate in various roles including as legislative director for Senator Rand Paul, where she led Paul’s Congressional Review Act effort against President Obama’s Cross State Air Pollution Rule, a regulation estimated to cost energy companies $120 billion per year. She also managed Paul’s 13-hour talking filibuster against the nomination of former CIA Director John O. Brennan in 2013.  

Bovard went on to serve as policy director for the Senate Steering Committee under the successive chairmanships of Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), where she advised Committee members on strategy related to floor procedure and policy matters. In the House, she worked as senior legislative assistant to Congressman Donald Manzullo (R-IL), and Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX). She also served as director of policy services for The Heritage Foundation.

In 2013, she was named one of National Journal’s Most Influential Women in Washington under 35. Her policy analysis and punditry have appeared in The Hill, Real Clear Policy, the Boston Herald, the Sacramento Bee, the Daily Signal and Conservative Review, among others, and she has done multiple radio and television appearances including on MSNBC, CNBC, Fox Business, EWTN and National Public Radio.

Born and raised in Rochester, NY, she received her bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, in history and political science at Grove City College in 2006. She also holds a master’s degree in professional studies from the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University. In addition to her public policy pursuits, Bovard is an accomplished sommelier, a wine educator, and a diploma candidate in the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. She lives with her rescue puppy, Chloe, on Capitol Hill.

Follow Rachel on Twitter at @RachelBovard

Matt Buckham

Buckham came to the Hill in 2011 to fight for freedom after the passage of Obamacare. As a student of Austrian free market economics at Grove City College, he was armed with the principle that liberty brings the greatest prosperity. His first job was working as an intern in the Senate Steering Committee where he quickly learned of the appropriations cycle and reckless government spending. Every day at the office he was greeted with a quote on the wall from Senator Jesse Helms that stays with him to this day, “Compromise, hell! That’s what has happened to us all down the line-and that’s the very cause of all our woes. If Freedom is right and tyranny is wrong, why should those who believe in freedom treat it as if it were a roll of bologna to be bartered a slice at a time.” He later joined the legislative staff of Senator Jim DeMint where he worked on domestic policy issues.

In 2013, Buckham left the Senate to work at The Heritage Foundation in a role that would allow him promote conservative policy ideas through the education of Members and their staff. During this time he ran multiple Hill staff working groups, including two on healthcare focused on the need to repeal Obamacare. He is deeply passionate about bringing conservatives together to equip them with the skills, knowledge, and relationships necessary to secure conservative policy victories.

Buckham worked for the House Freedom Caucus in their first year as a policy and communications advisor. In this role he helped define and communicate the Caucus’ position on defunding Planned Parenthood, and daily assisted staff with navigating House rules and floor procedure. His love for preparing the conservative movement for battle led him back to The Heritage Foundation where he spent the last year working to better equip both the Hill and coalition partners. During this time he was able to assist President Trump’s transition team by placing conservatives in key positions within the administration through the personnel team.

Aside from his work in the conservative movement, Buckham takes on the persona of Samuel Adams on the weekends where he homebrews regularly with his college friend. He currently lives in Alexandria with his sister Abby, a kindergarten teacher.

Sean McMahon

McMahon came to the Conservative Partnership Institute from The Heritage Foundation, where he served as manager of executive branch relations and the conservative candidate briefing program. During the 2016 election cycle, McMahon conducted over 200 briefings for many of the presidential candidates including Trump’s policy team and a majority of the Republican freshmen. During the 2016 Trump-Pence presidential transition, McMahon coordinated over 40 confirmation murder boards for all but two of the president-elect’s cabinet-level nominees. Prior to his time at Heritage, he worked on Capitol Hill for Congressman Alex Mooney.

Born in St. Paul, MN and raised in the central valley of California, McMahon received his bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, in music and political science from Ave Maria University in 2013. He was awarded his master’s degree in international relations, with distinction, from the University of Cambridge the following year. McMahon currently resides in Virginia with his wife, Maggie.