Nikki Haley’s Nonprofit Is Closely Intertwined With Her Political World

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Sponsors of former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s nonprofit also donated to her 2024 presidential campaign and affiliated political action committees (PACs), according to a Daily Caller News Foundation review of campaign finance and nonprofit records.

Haley founded the Original Six Foundation while governor of South Carolina in 2011 to help provide opportunities to underprivileged communities through after-school programs and literacy initiatives. However, a closer examination of the nonprofit reveals that its activities and affiliations often cross over into Haley’s political world.

Sponsors, board members and others involved with the Original Six Foundation have contributed to Haley’s 2024 campaign and associated PACs, totaling as much as $132,357. Additionally, Haley’s 2024 campaign merchandise appears to have been raffled off in at least one recent fundraising event, which experts said may violate nonprofit tax laws.

More broadly, experts who spoke to the DCNF questioned Haley’s decision not to step down from the nonprofit’s board to avoid potential conflicts of interest.

“We like to see folks resign, or take a leave of absence, from their charitable activities while they’re running, so that there can’t be any implication of support,” Alan P. Dye, nonprofit attorney, told the DCNF. “But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong. It just means that we try to be careful.”

Kiawah Island

The Original Six Foundation aims to help serve children in South Carolina’s poor and rural areas by providing funding to schools for various initiatives. The nonprofit has invested more than $1.2 million in this effort since its founding, helping students with homework, providing books and furthering other educational opportunities.

Haley currently serves as the chair of the nonprofit’s board but does not receive a salary.

“Nikki Haley is proud of her non-profit organization that serves children in rural and challenged areas across the state with reading remediation and homework, and provides a safe place to go after school. Last year alone, O6 distributed over 30,000 books to more than 3,000 students in 38 schools,” Olivia Perez-Cubas, spokesperson for Haley’s campaign, told the DCNF in a statement.

The Original Six Foundation did not respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.

The Original Six Foundation received roughly half of its funding through events between July 2021 and June 2022, according to its most recent 990 tax form, which showed the group held four events that fiscal year. Tax filings show Haley’s organization made $1.2 million between 2021 and 2022.

While the nonprofit isn’t required to disclose donors, it occasionally names event sponsors, some of which cross over into Haley’s political world.

For instance, the Original Six Foundation hosts annual golf tournaments at the Kiawah Island Club’s River Course to raise funds for South Carolina youth, and is set to host its sixth event in March. The Kiawah Island Club, which has been listed as a sponsor of the nonprofit, is a subsidiary of South Street Partners, a private equity firm based out of Kiawah Island.

All four of South Street’s partners have each donated thousands to Haley’s presidential campaign and/or SFA Fund, Inc., a super PAC dedicated to supporting her White House bid, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings.

FEC filings show South Street Partners’ Chris Randolph has contributed a combined $11,843 to Haley’s 2024 efforts, and its Jordan Phillips similarly donated $11,600. Fellow partners Wilson Culp and Patrick Melton both gave Haley’s campaign nearly $10,000 each, filings show.

Access to the nonprofit’s sponsors is limited, as the Original Six Foundation hasn’t always listed the companies publicly for the few events it holds each year. However, it appears that executives from some of the corporations listed as event sponsors have donated to Haley’s campaigns and affiliated PACs.

For instance, executives employed by sponsors of the nonprofit’s annual Golfing for Youth Charity Classic in March 2021 donated thousands to Haley’s presidential campaign and leadership PAC, Stand for America, which she founded in January 2021 to support a number of candidates for office. The March 2021 event brought in brought in $300,000.

Sponsors of the event included the Infrastructure Services Group, LLC; YC Holdings, LLC; Global Medical Response; Kiawah Island Golf Resort; McCrory Construction Company and Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A.

Infrastructure Services Group Robert Sisk donated $1,600 to Haley’s presidential campaign throughout 2023, according to FEC filings. YC Holdings President and Chairman James Roquemore contributed $5,000 to Stand for America PAC in 2021, FEC filings show.

Global Medical Response CEO Randel Owen donated $6,600 to the campaign in February 2023, FEC filings show. Owen also donated $10,000 to Stand for America PAC between 2022 and 2023, according to the FEC. Global Medical Response’s CFO and COO also contributed thousands to Haley’s PAC in 2022, according to FEC data.

Kiawah Island Golf Resort President Roger Warren and McCrory Construction Company CEO Allen Amsler each gave Haley’s campaign $1,000 in 2023, according to FEC filings.

Will Johnson, who leads Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd’s economic development practice group and is a member of the Original Six Foundation’s Board of Trustees, has given $2,000 to Haley’s presidential bid.

Several other members of the Original Six Foundation’s board have also donated to Haley’s presidential campaign and her PAC, including secretary Audrey Randolph.

Randolph contributed a total of $6,600 to the campaign, along with a combined $10,000 to Stand for America PAC in 2021 and 2023, FEC filings show. Randolph also donated $30,000 to SFA Fund over four months, according to the FEC.

Treasurer Candace Leaphart and trustee Suzanne Koty have made numerous small-dollar donations to Haley’s campaign in 2023, totaling to $22 and $292, respectively, according to FEC data.

The Haley campaign insisted that there isn’t anything wrong with individuals supporting both the charity and Haley’s political efforts.

According to a registration form for the 2023 iteration of the Youth Charity Classic, top sponsors appear to be gaining access to Haley. The sponsors — which appear to have been Boeing, US Brick Company, Collum’s Lumber Products and Nucor — were invited to join the nonprofit’s board members the evening prior for an “intimate gathering” with the former ambassador, where they would enjoy drinks, dinner and more.

While sharing nonprofit and political donors isn’t illegal, nonprofit experts suggested Haley step down from her role on the board while she runs for president to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.

Doug White, a nonprofit advisor, said that while Haley and the Original Six Foundation “may be acting innocently,” she should step down from the charity “to be sure there is no implication that the charity is overtly supporting her.”

‘Mingling Politics With Charity’

At the Original Six Foundation’s annual Sporting Clays Tournament in October 2023, the nonprofit sold raffle tickets for a “Haley For President Swag Basket” that included Haley-branded bumper stickers, beer cozies, shirts and a yard sign with Haley’s signature, according to a post on the nonprofit’s social media account. Haley spoke at the event, which the nonprofit said brought in over $170,000.

Ethics experts warned that such a move may be a violation of the tax code, which bars 501(c)(3) organizations “from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”

“Haley is mingling politics with charity, which treads into an ethical dilemma but does not constitute a violation of election laws,” Public Citizen’s Craig Holman told the DCNF. “However, the charity itself is supposed to stay far and away from electioneering activities under the tax code. By selling ‘Haley for President’ materials at its auction – with Haley no doubt reaping the applause – the Original Six Foundation has crossed into campaigning for a candidate, which is prohibited for a 501(c)(3) charity.”

White said that a nonprofit’s “allowed political activities need to be nonpartisan.”

“I have ethical concerns about the activity,” White told the DCNF. “Even if it wasn’t a raffle, using her name at such an event at least raises ethical, if not legal, questions.”

Dye said he “would have advised against it,” as “it would be easy to interpret it as support for [Haley].”

Haley’s campaign insisted there is no violation of the tax code, as it wasn’t involved with the merchandise’s raffle. An individual purchased the campaign’s items, donated them to the nonprofit’s auction and the proceeds went toward the Original Six Foundation’s efforts, according to the campaign.

Hal Stevenson, a former board member of the nonprofit, said he never got the impression Haley was using the Original Six Foundation to advance her political career. However, Stevenson said he was “surprised” to find the nonprofit permitted a table full of campaign merchandise at a fundraising event.

“But, she is running for president — if it raises money for the foundation, I guess, you know, people might want give more money to the foundation. And, you know, everybody that goes knows Nikki’s running for president,” Stevenson told the DCNF.


Corporate Backers

Two corporations that benefited from policies Haley backed while in public office have also been listed as Original Six Foundation event sponsors. Such events occurred after Haley left the Trump administration in late 2018.

One of those companies was Boeing, a company on whose board Haley served in 2019 and 2020. The foundation listed Boeing as a sponsor for multiple fundraising events, including in 2021, 2022 and 2023. (RELATED: ‘I Love Boeing’: Nikki Haley Forced To Go On Defense As Opponents Pounce On Corporate Ties)

The most recent Boeing-sponsored event was the nonprofit’s annual Golfing for Youth Charity Classic Tournament and Founder’s Dinner in late March. The event brought in over $400,000 — a record fundraising total for the Original Six Foundation, according to the nonprofit.

Years earlier, as an elected official in South Carolina, Haley supported policies that handed Boeing over $1 billion in taxpayer-funded benefits.

As a state lawmaker, Haley supported an estimated $900 million development package for the corporation in 2009, which funded construction of the company’s 787 Dreamliner facility in North Charleston, South Carolina. As governor, Haley signed a bill in 2013 that gave Boeing $120 million in bond money for its expansion plans.

In 2014, Haley ran a campaign advertisement for her reelection bid attacking her Democratic opponent while standing up for Boeing. The governor emphasized her support of the company after a labor organization filed a complaint against Boeing for opening its facility in South Carolina, which it deemed to not be union-friendly.

Boeing’s corporate PAC donated $3,500 to Haley’s gubernatorial campaign in 2011 and 2013, according to FEC filings.

Haley was nominated to Boeing’s board in February 2019 where she served for roughly a year. The Republican stepped down from the position in March 2020 after disagreeing with the corporation for wanting to take federal funds during the COVID-19 pandemic, Haley wrote in her resignation letter.

The former ambassador brought in a total of $256,322 from serving on Boeing’s board in 2019, as well as $83,750 in 2020 prior to her resignation, according to filings from the Securities and Exchange Commission. Haley’s financial disclosure form from 2023 showed she owns up to $250,000 worth of Boeing stock.

Another corporation Haley has ties with from her time in state government is CBRE, a global commercial real estate company that has also been listed as a sponsor by the nonprofit on several occasions.

In 2016 under Haley, South Carolina hired CBRE to sell a surplus of property in South Carolina, totaling to about 690 acres.

Haley has seen a surge in the polls in the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire, where she now is in second place at 24.8% with the backing of GOP Gov. Chris Sununu, according to the RCP. The former governor is also second in her home state of South Carolina with 19.6% and is in a close third with 16.1% in Iowa.

The campaign announced on Wednesday that Haley has raised $50 million since launching her campaign in February 2023, and has $14.5 million cash on hand.

“Our opponents must be really desperate if they’re attacking a nonprofit that helps thousands of South Carolina’s underserved students,” Perez-Cubas told the DCNF.

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