Nikki Haley’s campaign vastly overstated her fundraising: Washington Post report

Nikki Haley speaking at an event. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford.

Earlier this month, Nikki Haley’s presidential campaign touted an impressive number: A news release said the former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador had raised more than $11 million in the six weeks since launching her campaign for the GOP nomination.

But filings on Saturday with the Federal Election Commission show that her campaign drastically overstated its haul. The campaign appears to have double-counted money it moved among various committees.

The filings, covering the first three months of the year, show that three committees affiliated with Haley collectively brought in about $8.3 million.

Fundraising is one measure of enthusiasm for presidential candidates, and quarterly totals are closely watched in both major political parties as a metric used to judge campaign strength. Candidates often tout their fundraising totals before they are disclosed to the FEC, previewing data that will later be accessible to the public.

Haley has been raising money across several committees. She has a main campaign committee. She has a committee predating her February launch that has been used to promote her agenda and boost other candidates. And she has a joint fundraising committee that directs funds to both.

Haley’s joint fundraising committee raised about $4.4 million, its filing shows.

The campaign committee’s haul of about $5.1 million included a transfer of $1.8 million from the joint fundraising committee.

And Haley’s other committee, known as a leadership PAC, posted gains of about $1.5 million, including a transfer of nearly $900,000 from the joint fundraising committee.

In arriving at $11 million, Haley’s campaign appears to have summed the three committee’s cash infusions, even though two of them took a significant chunk of money from the third.

Nachama Soloveichik, communications director for the Haley campaign, defended the accounting, saying that adding up the numbers from the three committees without excluding transfers mirrored how other campaigns explained their fundraising.

But the arithmetic was highly unusual. For instance, the Trump campaign on Saturday said the former president had raised about $14.5 million into his main campaign committee and another $4.3 million into his leadership PAC. About $14 million of the $14.5 million raised for the campaign came via a joint fundraising committee, according to Trump’s report to the FEC. As is standard practice, the Trump campaign did not add $14 million to $14.5 million to arrive at its announced sum for the first quarter of the year.

Furthermore, not all of the $8.3 million reported by Haley’s various groups can be used for her campaign. Money in Haley’s leadership PAC, a sort of group often deployed to boost allies or promote a particular message, cannot be used to finance her own campaign.

The haul promoted by Haley’s team in advance of her FEC filings impressed donors, who said the number was a sign of the strength of Haley’s campaign.

“I think that $11 million in six weeks speaks volumes and it shows that she’s a candidate that people need to be paying attention to,” Eric Tanenblatt, former finance co-chair for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, said before the filings were made to the FEC.

Tanenblatt did not immediately respond to an inquiry Saturday night about the newly disclosed numbers.

Tanenblatt previously said the claimed $11 million total proved that Haley “established herself now as the alternative” to former president Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. He hosted a fundraiser for Haley in Georgia in March, and he and his wife have already maxed out donations to Haley and are planning to give to her exclusively.

“Running for president is kind of a war of attrition,” said Republican strategist Kevin McLaughlin in an interview before the FEC report was made available. “And the one imperative this early I would say is resources.”



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