Dark Money Fueling Nikki Haley’s Campaign
Late registered Super PACs and undisclosed nonprofits are pouring tens of millions of dollars into a last-minute bid to help Nikki Haley in New Hampshire.
Nikki Haley is banking on an avalanche of campaign spending in New Hampshire, where she has the best chance of gaining momentum on Donald Trump before Super Tuesday.
Much of it is undisclosed, dark money.
The recently formed "Independents Moving the Needle," a new Super PAC, just unveiled a $1 million television ad spend across N.H., which showcases former Trump voters endorsing Haley.
The group was registered last November by Jonathan Bush, the cousin of former President George W. Bush. News reports link the group to billionaire CEO Frank Laukien, but given its late registration, the group does not have to disclose any donors before voters go to the polls.
The biggest flow of opaque pro-Haley money comes from the network helmed by billionaire Charles Koch through his organization, Americans for Prosperity. Koch, who amassed a fortune through oil pipelines, refineries, paper plants, and a range of industrial products, created a political network that rivals the size and scope of the two major political parties. It is a coalition effort by Koch and like-minded conservative billionaires.
In November, Americans for Prosperity formally endorsed Haley and threw its massive weight behind her candidacy. Federal Election Commission spending records show AFP recently placed over $20 million in digital media advertisements to support Haley and has dispatched its legion of paid canvassers to knock on doors on her behalf. The Koch network comprises field organizers, data analysts, a special Latino outreach arm, a veterans organization, and other tools to shape election outcomes.
The AFP Action Super PAC provides limited transparency. The group is funded by Koch Industries, wholesale billionaire James Pope, poultry tycoon Ron Cameron, offshore oil executive Wayne Laufer, and Jim C. Walton, one of the heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune. But AFP Action also relies on a $25 million donation from Stand Together Chamber of Commerce. This nonprofit does not disclose any donor information, meaning about a third of AFP's total donor base is kept secret.
There are also unusual circumstances around Haley’s official Super PAC, the SFA Fund, Inc. The group, which has flooded the airwaves with ads, crafts many of its messages through a consulting firm called “Shire Strategies, LLC.” The company has no clear website. It was registered anonymously in Pennslyvania.
Trump is known for punishing disloyalty, especially among Republican campaign operatives. Consulting firms that work for his adversaries have been told that his future administration will shun them. This may factor into the decision of some of Haley’s advisors to remain in the shadows.
The sudden surge in support for Haley comes as much of the donor class sees her as the last chance to dislodge Trump before he locks up the Republican nomination. Many establishment GOP donors wary of a second Trump term have reportedly gravitated away from Gov. Ron DeSantis as his numbers have slumped in the polls.