How Nikki Haley’s Campaign Inflated Her Fund-Raising Haul

Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador, has staked her presidential run on an image as a straight shooter, with experience and drama-free competence.

This weekend, though, it became clear that the impressive early fund-raising numbers her campaign promoted this month had been inflated, apparently because of double-counted money.

The campaign had broadcast an $11 million haul in its opening six weeks, through the end of the first-quarter filing period on March 31. But when three of her affiliated committees filed reports on Saturday, the math did not add up.

Instead, the three committees appeared to have taken in about $8.3 million, including $2.7 million that one of the committees transferred to two other committees and that was double-counted in the overall figure.

On Saturday, a spokeswoman for Ms. Haley said other campaigns had accounted for their money similarly in the past.

Who’s Running for President in 2024?

The race begins. Four years after a historically large number of candidates ran for president, the field for the 2024 campaign is starting out small and is likely to be headlined by the same two men who ran last time: President Biden and Donald Trump. Here’s who has entered the race so far, and who else might run:

Donald Trump. The former president is running to retake the office he lost in 2020. Though somewhat diminished in influence within the Republican Party — and facing several legal investigations — he retains a large and committed base of supporters, and he could be aided in the primary by multiple challengers splitting a limited anti-Trump vote.

Nikki Haley. The former governor of South Carolina and U.N. ambassador under Trump has presented herself as a member of “a new generation of leadership” and emphasized her life experience as a daughter of Indian immigrants. She was long seen as a rising G.O.P. star but her allure in the party has declined amid her on-again, off-again embrace of Trump.

Vivek Ramaswamy. The multimillionaire entrepreneur and author describes himself as “anti-woke” and is known in right-wing circles for opposing corporate efforts to advance political, social and environmental causes. He has never held elected office and does not have the name recognition of most other G.O.P. contenders.

Asa Hutchinson. The former governor of Arkansas is one of a relatively small number of Republicans who have been openly critical of Trump. Hutchinson has denounced the former president’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election and said Trump should drop out of the presidential race.

President Biden. While Biden has not formally declared his candidacy for a second term, he is widely expected to run. But there has been much hand-wringing among Democrats over whether he should seek re-election given his age. If he does run, Biden’s strategy is to frame the race as a contest between a seasoned leader and a conspiracy-minded opposition.

Marianne Williamson. The self-help author and former spiritual adviser to Oprah Winfrey is running for a second time. In her 2020 campaign, the Democrat called for a federal Department of Peace, supported reparations for slavery and called Trumpism a symptom of an illness in the American psyche that could not be cured with political policies.

Others who might run. Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, former Vice President Mike Pence, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina and Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire are seen as weighing Republican bids for the White House. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a longtime vaccine skeptic, filed paperwork to run as a Democrat.

How can this happen?

The muddied accounting exposes the risks of building a campaign-finance operation with a patchwork of committees, which has become standard for presidential candidates.

Ms. Haley is backed by four affiliated entities registered with the Federal Election Commission, three of which made filings on Saturday.

Team Stand for America, her joint fund-raising committee, solicits contributions that are then divided between three entities: her presidential campaign committee, a multicandidate political action committee and a hybrid PAC (which did not file on Saturday).

According to its filing on Saturday, Team Stand for America raised nearly $4.3 million in contributions in the first quarter. It also transferred $2.7 million to affiliated committees, and here is where the math got tricky. Without those transfers, the total raised by the three committees was $8.3 million, not $11 million.

More details, please

Ms. Haley’s principal campaign committee — Nikki Haley for President — disclosed that it had taken in $5.1 million in receipts. But only $3.3 million of that sum came from contributions: The remaining $1.8 million came from Team Stand for America in two transfers recorded on March 31, the filings show.

Stand for America PAC, a group that supports her but can also raise money for other candidates, reported $1.5 million in receipts — but just $600,000 of that came from contributions, the filing shows. The PAC received $886,000 in transferred money from Team Stand for America on March 31.

In offering the original $11 million figure, the campaign added up the total receipts for the three groups — $5.1 million, $4.3 million and $1.5 million — without accounting for the fact that $2.7 million was being moved between the groups.

What does it mean?

Not much. There is nothing inaccurate about the filings themselves — they appear to add up — and there is nothing new about campaigns overhyping their fund-raising.

And $8.3 million is still a sizable haul for the first six weeks of a presidential campaign. In comparison, former President Donald J. Trump’s campaign disclosed $9.5 million in receipts in January for the first six weeks of his official bid.

A spokeswoman for Ms. Haley did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.

In 2021, Mr. Trump’s advisers announced, inaccurately, that his affiliated political committees had raised nearly $82 million in the first six months of the year. That figure improperly counted at least $23 million in transfers to new political action committees from other accounts, The New York Times found.

Mr. Trump’s joint campaign committee — which has been the main vessel for his fund-raising this election cycle — raised $18.8 million in the first quarter, his campaign has said. It transferred $14 million to his principle campaign committee, according to filings Saturday.

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