The super PAC backing former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley entered the election year in January with just $3.5 million in cash, according to new Federal Election Commission records. The relatively small sum raises new questions about whether Haley can finance a viable presidential primary campaign over the coming months.
The new report Wednesday from SFA Fund Inc. covers the period from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2023. It reveals the committee raised just over $50 million, but spent nearly $63 million to back Haley. The super PAC entered the reporting period in July with around $17 million, but finished with a paltry $3.5 million war chest after spending heavily on ads.
The numbers from SFA Fund come as some of Haley’s wealthiest donors consider whether to continue helping, especially after the former South Carolina governor suffered bruising defeats to the GOP front-runner, former President Donald Trump, in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.
The next major primary is in Haley’s home state on Feb. 24.
The leading pro-Trump super PAC, MAGA Inc. also filed its six-month disclosure report Wednesday, revealing that it entered January with just over $23 million in cash on hand.
In addition to raising concerns about Haley’s ability to compete in upcoming primary states, SFA’s $3.5 million cash on hand raises questions about how the PAC was able to finance $14 million worth of advertisements backing Haley since Jan. 1, according to data from the tracking firm AdImpact.
Mark Harris, a representative for SFA Fund, told CNBC the ad spending in January did not come out of the previous fall’s totals. Instead, he said, the additional $10.5 million minimum needed to fund the ad campaign came from “robust” fundraising just this month, he said. Harris declined to say how much the super PAC raised in total this month, or who the PAC’s top donors were.
The lion’s share of the $14 million was spent in Iowa and New Hampshire, with just $200,000 spent on TV spots airing in South Carolina so far.
Wednesday’s filing revealed that the super PAC’s fundraising success last fall came on the backs of big-money donors.
Ken Griffin, the CEO of Citadel, gave $5 million to the super PAC in December, according to the FEC records. Griffin made news this week when his spokesman told media outlets, including CNBC, that he donated $5 million to the pro-Haley super PAC in January.
Griffin’s spokesman later confirmed that the $5 million had in fact been donated to SFA Fund in December, and not January, when the spokesman had originally said the donation was made.
Ken Langone, the co-founder of Home Depot, gave just over $500,000, and David Tepper, a veteran investor and owner of the Carolina Panthers, gave north of $1 million. Overall, nine donors gave at least $1 million to SFA Fund Inc. in the last six months of 2023.
Oil tycoon Harold Hamm continued around $100,000.