Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley Gets Boost From Never-Trump Group

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (File) By Robert Schmad, DCNF.
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A political advocacy group backed by Democrat-aligned dark money organizations has shelled out tens of thousands of dollars to boost Nikki Haley ahead of the New Hampshire primary, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings.

Defending Democracy Together (DDT), an organization co-founded by ex-Republican Bill Kristol, spent $56,325 in January boosting Haley and hundreds of thousands opposing former President Donald Trump by purchasing TV ads, mailers and phone calls, among other things, per the FEC.

DDT has attracted an array of left-wing and Democrat-aligned backers over the years, including nonprofits managed by the dark money behemoth Arabella Advisors, which have dumped tens of millions of dollars into supporting Democratic get-out-the-vote operations and funding left-wing groups in recent years.

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Of the total DDT spent boosting Haley, $51,300 was explicitly earmarked for New Hampshire, according to the FEC disclosure.

While Trump dominates national Republican primary polling and won the Iowa Caucus handily, New Hampshire is shaping up to be a closer race, with Haley only 13.2 points behind Trump in the state, according to FiveThirtyEight’s polling average. Haley now faces pressure from some of her top fundraisers to perform well in New Hampshire after she finished third and failed to top Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in Iowa, according to CNBC News.

Allies of Haley’s campaign believe New Hampshire’s demographics could be favorable to her, pointing to her appeal in educated, white-collar suburbs, The New York Times reported. The former South Carolina governor appears to be leaning into the notion, with Haley’s campaign and its allied PAC spending over $26 million on ads targeting voters in New Hampshire, CNBC reported.

January’s spending spree marks the first time the group has been active in elections since June 2021, according to the FEC.

Read: Trump Voters In New Hampshire Say They’re With Him Until The End, Indictments Be Damned

“This is an unaffiliated outside group that has nothing to do with our campaign,” a spokesperson for the Haley campaign told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

DDT has received a significant amount of funding from Democrat-aligned or otherwise left-of-center organizations.

Sixteen Thirty Fund, a nonprofit managed by Arabella Advisors that has spent millions over the years boosting Democrats and bankrolling liberal activists, gave DDT more than $10.8 million between 2020 and 2022 for “civil rights, social action [and] advocacy,” according to tax filings.

Sixteen Thirty distanced itself from DDT’s pro-Haley effort, telling the DCNF that it “has not provided any grants in support of Nikki Haley’s presidential campaign.”

The nonprofit spent tens of millions bankrolling super PACs supporting Senate Democrats and Joe Biden in 2020, Politico reported. It spent millions more between 2019 and 2020 funding groups that ran ads targeting vulnerable Senate Republicans, according to the outlet.

Sixteen Thirty also spent millions funding groups pushing Democrat-backed ballot initiatives. The nonprofit gave $6.9 million to organizations that supported a pro-abortion ballot measure in Michigan, including $5.7 million to the group that got the measure on the ballot.

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Hopewell Fund, which is also managed by Arabella Advisors, gave DDT $75,000 in 2018 for “civil rights, social action [and] advocacy,” according to tax forms.

“Hopewell Fund is a non-partisan 501(c)(3) non-profit that does not support the election of any political candidate,” the organization told the DCNF.

Hopewell and Sixteen Thirty weren’t the only major left-of-center donor groups to throw support behind DDT.

Democracy Fund Voice, an organization founded and funded by eBay co-founder and liberal donor Pierre Omidyar, gave DDT $4.4 million between 2018 and 2021, according to tax filings.

Omidyar, a vocal critic of Trump, has a history of donating to anti-Trump efforts. He funded a slate of organizations targeting Facebook over the purported harm caused by hate speech and misinformation on the platform. Omidyar’s grantmaking organizations donated $1.2 billion between 2004 and 2020 mostly, to left-wing groups, according to the Capital Research Center.

Haley has attracted the support of a number of traditionally liberal or Democratic donors who see her as a more palatable alternative to Trump.

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Reid Hoffman, the billionaire founder of LinkedIn and one of the Democratic Party’s largest donors, gave $250,000 to a pro-Haley super PAC. Hoffman is also linked to Jeffery Epstein, having visited the since-deceased pedophile’s island on what he says was a fundraising trip, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Other billionaires, like JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, have encouraged Democrats to support Haley.

“Even if you’re [a] very liberal Democrat, I urge you, you know, help Nikki Haley too … on the Republican side, that might be better than Trump,” Dimon said in November 2023.

“I’m an ex-Republican,” Kristol tweeted on Jan. 14. “But if I were an Iowan, I’d be crossing back over to vote for Haley Monday.”

Kristol, who was a vocal proponent of the Iraq War and a supporter of John McCain, soured on the Republican Party during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Kristol emerged as a leader among never-Trump Republicans in 2016, even trying to recruit candidates to challenge him, NBC News reported.

Haley has steadily been gaining ground in the Republican primary race over the past few months. On Jan. 14 she surpassed DeSantis for the first time in FiveThirtyEight’s average of polls.

Trump now stands at 64.6% support in the primary, compared to Haley’s 12.2%, according to FiveThirtyEight.

DDT, Democracy Fund Voice and Longwell Partners did not respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.

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