What is Sixteen Thirty Fund, the Nikki Haley aide-tied liberal dark money group?

An influential Democratic dark money group called Sixteen Thirty Fund has come under the spotlight after a Washington Examiner report on one of its lobbyists becoming a top campaign staffer for GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley.

Former President Donald Trump criticized Haley on Saturday over the revelation during his Manchester, New Hampshire, rally ahead of the Granite State’s Tuesday primary, while Republicans took to social media over the weekend to raise concerns. The original report centered on Tyler Clark, Haley’s New Hampshire state director, who lobbied in 2020 for the left-wing Sixteen Thirty Fund, as well as the likes of the American Federation of Teachers and the American Civil Liberties Union.

“It was just reported that Nikki Haley’s state director in New Hampshire, this is a very bad one, listen carefully, Tyler Clark, did anyone ever hear of him?” Trump asked the crowd on Saturday. “He was a lobbyist for Sixteen Thirty Fund, which is managed by Arabella Advisors, which is the largest Democrat dark money network in the country and considered public enemy No. 1. That’s who’s managing her campaign. Does that tell you something, perhaps?”

Hours before Trump’s remarks, the presidential campaign for Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) posted the report on social media and said, “Haley’s campaign is not only funded by Democrats — it’s run by Democrats, too!” DeSantis dropped out of the 2024 race on Sunday and said he was endorsing Trump “because we can’t go back to the old Republican guard of yesteryear, a repackaged form of warmed-over corporatism that Nikki Haley represents.”

What is Sixteen Thirty Fund?

Clark’s prior relationships with Sixteen Thirty Fund and other organizations bolstered concerns among Republicans that a potential Haley administration would be staffed with left-leaning personnel. Democratic megadonor Reed Hoffman notably wired $250,000 recently to a super PAC aligned with Haley, who, according to polls, could stand to lose by a wider margin in the New Hampshire primary than previously predicted because prior DeSantis voters are likely flocking to Trump.

According to lobbying disclosure files in New Hampshire, Clark worked on behalf of Sixteen Thirty Fund in 2020, along with other lobbyists. That year, Sixteen Thirty Fund, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, spent $410 million to help unseat Trump and back Democrats, tax filings show.

Sixteen Thirty Fund is a key Democratic activist hub managed by Arabella Advisors, a more than $1 billion dark money network that is under investigation by the Washington, D.C., attorney general’s office over financial mismanagement allegations. The office is also investigating groups affiliated with Leonard Leo, the co-chairman of the Federalist Society legal group and a prominent conservative activist.

Scott Walter, the president of the Capital Research Center and the author of a forthcoming book on Arabella Advisors, told the Washington Examiner on Saturday, “Many conservatives will be surprised to learn that any Republican has worked for the Left’s top ‘dark money’ network.” The Capital Research Center, like other conservative groups, has pulled grants through Donors Trust, which has connections to Leo.

Conservatives have long accused liberals of hypocrisy for rebuking the Right for its ties to “dark money,” believing that the term is selectively used by those on the Left to refer to anonymously funded speech with which they disagree.

Sixteen Thirty Fund, which was formed in 2009, is not required to report its donors to the IRS. Its 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status allows the lobbying shop to be more politically involved than 501(c)(3) charities.

For instance, Sixteen Thirty Fund financed advertisements through opaque groups slamming Trump and other Republicans in 2020, the New York Times reported. Federal Election Commission filings show that Sixteen Thirty Fund directed a staggering $6.78 million in late 2019 to the victory fund for the League of Conservation Voters, a left-wing environmental group, among other large donations.

Like other Arabella groups, Sixteen Thirty Fund fiscally sponsors pop-up groups that are not required to file their own financial disclosures with the IRS. Sixteen Thirty Fund, at one point, sponsored Demand Justice, a controversial progressive legal group.

Aside from resulting in a lack of financial transparency, experts have pointed to the immense benefits that fiscal sponsorship provides to newly formed or grassroots groups. The arrangement allows projects to receive services such as human resources, legal help, health insurance handling, donation processing, and other key benefits.

Sixteen Thirty Fund was once led by Eric Kessler, a former top aide in the Clinton administration and the founder of the broader Arabella Advisors network. Conservatives have said in recent years that Sixteen Thirty Fund may have violated federal law over receiving cash from organizations linked to Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss due to rules surrounding foreign nationals and political contributions.

Hayden Ludwig, a policy research director for the conservative Restoration of America advocacy group who has done extensive reporting on Arabella, told the Washington Examiner that Haley hiring Clark “doesn’t give Republicans confidence about the kind of personnel that Haley would staff her administration with.”

“Hiring people willing to work for the biggest Democratic dark money political machine in the country is exactly why Republican voters are turning away from failed establishment policies Nikki Haley wants to revive from the dead,” Ludwig said.

Clark did not reply to requests from the Washington Examiner to be interviewed.


On Saturday, Haley campaign spokeswoman AnnMarie Graham-Barnes declined to respond to questions from the Washington Examiner about Clark’s lobbying record.

“The Trump campaign should be careful to throw stones at glass houses,” Graham-Barnes said. “Donald Trump donated to Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, Rahm Emanuel, and the Clinton Foundation. Trump has done more to help the Democrat Party than anyone in this race.”