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April 22, 2024

Koch network says it will stop funding Nikki Haley’s presidential bid

Koch network says it will stop funding Nikki Haley’s presidential bid

The political network financed largely by billionaire Charles Koch announced Sunday that it will no longer spend funds to support Nikki Haley’s presidential bid.

Former President Donald Trump on Saturday swept to victory over Haley in South Carolina, her home state, where she once served as governor.

In an email obtained by NBC News, which was confirmed by two sources who received it, the network’s advocacy arm said that following Haley’s loss in South Carolina, the group no longer believes it can make a meaningful difference for her in the race, senior adviser Emily Seidel said. Instead, Americans for Prosperity Action will focus its resources down the ballot on House and Senate races.

“She has made it clear that she will continue to fight and we wholeheartedly support her in this effort,” Seidel said. “But given the challenges in the primary states ahead, we don’t believe any outside group can make a material difference to widen her path to victory.”

Politico first reported the decision. A representative for Americans for Prosperity, or AFP, did not respond to a request for comment. 

The move is a blow to Haley as she vows to continue against Trump, who beat her by about 20 percentage points Saturday and captured all but three delegates.

AFP provided crucial support to Haley on the ground, mobilizing its vast network of grassroots political activists to help get the vote out for her in early states. The group also poured money into advertising, hoping to fuel her rise. AFP Action, a super PAC, spent more than $31 million boosting Haley in the race, according to Federal Election Commission data.

Donors to Americans for Prosperity, which is part of the political arm of the larger Koch network and is led by Seidel, had pressed the group to endorse a Republican primary candidate in the race to find an alternative to Trump.

When the group endorsed Haley in November, Seidel said AFP Action was looking for the best Republican “to turn the page on the current political era.” She said that candidate was Haley, with the group “better equipped to help her do it” than any other organization.

Even so, many longtime Koch-world operatives questioned the decision, seeing little chance for her to win the nomination. 

Haley’s pathway has now all but closed, with Trump appearing to be cruising toward his party’s presidential nomination.

Haley has said she does not think Trump can defeat President Joe Biden.

Sounding a resolute note Sunday, Haley’s campaign touted new fundraising numbers to fuel the fight ahead.

“AFP is a great organization and ally in the fight for freedom and conservative government. We thank them for their tremendous help in this race,” Haley’s campaign said. “Our fight continues, and with more than $1 million coming in from grassroots conservatives in just the last 24 hours, we have plenty of fuel to keep going.”

Haley’s team added, “We have a country to save.”

In a post on Truth Social, Trump said the Koch network had been “played for suckers right from the beginning.”

The announcement Sunday was a disappointing end for AFP’s strategy after it promised a year ago to reverse American politics’ “downward spiral” by backing a Trump alternative.

On Sunday, Seidel wrote that AFP knew from the start that the path “faced the longest odds” but that given the stakes, it “couldn’t sit on the sidelines.”

“This organization exists to do hard things,” she said.

The enthusiasm felt through the start of the year and into New Hampshire appeared to slip as Trump’s grip on the race became harder to ignore.

Asked about AFP Action’s decision, a source briefed on the decision said that after the New Hampshire primary, “they’d already made a commitment on January 8 with the TV buys. And there was hope, realistic hope, that things would change.” 

That notion began to fade when the surge never materialized.

“There was an honest objective belief that her campaign was still surging, especially when Donald Trump reacted the way he did towards her doing so well and not dropping out,” the source said. “That hope did not come to fruition.”

Katherine Doyle

Katherine Doyle is a White House reporter for NBC News.

Emma Barnett

Emma Barnett is a 2024 NBC News campaign embed.

Ali Vitali

Ali Vitali is a Capitol Hill correspondent for NBC News, based in Washington.

Jake Traylor



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