Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley is getting a last-minute boost ahead of the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday from a Bill Kristol-led group bankrolled by the largest Democratic dark money network in the United States, documents show.
Defending Democracy Together has spent more than $96,000 on pro-Haley advertisements and mailers and roughly $448,500 against former President Donald Trump since Jan. 13, according to Federal Election Commission filings. The nonprofit organization was co-founded by Kristol, a Never Trump writer, and notably pocketed $10.8 million between 2020 and 2022 from Sixteen Thirty Fund, a group managed by the $1 billion liberal Arabella Advisors dark money network.
“Sixteen Thirty Fund supported Defending Democracy Together’s bipartisan work to protect the integrity of U.S. elections,” a spokesperson for Sixteen Thirty Fund told the Washington Examiner. “None of the grants support the Haley campaign or any Republican primary candidate.”
The Kristol-led entity’s independent expenditures supporting Haley underscore how the former ambassador to the United Nations and ex-South Carolina governor has certain indirect ties to Arabella Advisors — which is under investigation by the Washington, D.C., attorney general’s office over financial mismanagement allegations. The Washington Examiner first reported Saturday that Haley’s New Hampshire state director, Tyler Clark, lobbied on behalf of liberal groups, including Sixteen Thirty Fund in 2020, the year the dark money group doled out $410 million to boost Democrats and help unseat Trump.
“That’s who’s managing her campaign,” Trump said in New Hampshire at a rally on Saturday, citing the report from the Washington Examiner. “Does that tell you something, perhaps?”
A spokesperson for the Haley campaign told the Daily Caller on Monday that Defending Democracy Together “is an unaffiliated outside group that has nothing to do with our campaign.” The Haley campaign declined on Saturday to comment to the Washington Examiner on Clark’s lobbying record for liberal groups and, instead, provided an unrelated statement asserting that “Trump has done more to help the Democrat Party than anyone in this race.”
Defending Democracy Together, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit group that purports to be “dedicated to defending America’s democratic norms, values, and institutions and fighting for consistent conservative principles like rule of law, free trade, and expanding legal immigration,” was formed in 2018. The Never Trump organization was dubbed the “top ‘dark money’ spender” that election cycle in an October 2020 report by OpenSecrets, a nonpartisan campaign tracker.
Kristol’s group, which in 2020 received $125,000 from New Venture Fund, a separate left-wing group managed by Arabella Advisors, is also directed by Mona Charen, an editor for the Never-Trump Bulwark politics website. Defending Democracy Together counts its executive director as Sarah Longwell, the publisher of the Bulwark.
A New Venture Fund spokesperson told the Washington Examiner: “Like every 501(c)(3), New Venture Fund cannot and does not support any electoral campaigns or political clients, full stop. Every dollar originating from New Venture Fund is used exclusively for nonpartisan, charitable 501(c)(3) purposes in line with all federal, state, and local regulations.”
Political consultant Tim Miller, who writes for the Bulwark, is also listed on tax forms filed by Defending Democracy Together in October of last year as a board member. So is Linda Chavez, a frequent Bulwark writer.
The Kristol-led group’s largest 2024 expenditure to date was $136,700 on Tuesday for anti-Trump advertising in New Hampshire, according to FEC records. The money was paid to Street Level Campaigns, a Los Angeles-based LLC headed by Pat Dennis, a one-time donor to Democratic California state Rep. Esmeralda Soria.
The expenditures come as Trump has continued to cement his front-runner status in the race, pulling off a landslide victory in the Iowa caucuses last week.
A new poll released Monday morning found Trump leading Haley in New Hampshire by 19 percentage points, which comes after Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) dropped out of the 2024 race on Sunday and endorsed the former president.
Following the Washington Examiner’s report on Clark, many Republicans took to social media to rebuke Haley’s campaign for hiring him, saying that it was part of a broader trend of the ex-ambassador’s ties to Democrats.
A super PAC allied with Haley’s candidacy notably took $250,000 recently from Reed Hoffman, a Democratic megadonor who was outed last year as having visited Jeffrey Epstein’s private island in 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“We’ve been saying it for the past year – @NikkiHaley is not America First – she is not a conservative – SHE IS the Establishment Plant,” Benjamin Yoho, who was the CEO of the 2024 GOP presidential campaign for Vivek Ramaswamy, posted Saturday on social media. “Glad folks are starting to double click. #NeverNikki.”