Multi-billionaire turns off money: Who is financing Trump opponent Nikki Haley?

She is Donald Trump’s last opponent among the Republicans. Nikki Haley has no chance of winning the primary and now the first major financier is leaving the ship. But she doesn’t want to give up.

Nikki Haley spent $11 million in just one month on election advertising in South Carolina – the US state where she was born and raised and became governor. But even in her home country she had no chance against Donald Trump: in the Republican presidential primary she won 40 percent, which is respectable given Trump’s dominance within the party, but still a clear defeat.

Why does Nikki Haley continue?

After losing the vote again, Nikki Haley made it clear that she would continue her fight against the ex-president. Days before the foreseeable defeat, the Washington Post asked what would motivate Haley to continue her hopeless race. One of the speculations was: Because she can afford it.

In fact, she has a lot of money at her disposal, but that will soon be over. Because now one of her biggest benefactors has given up her support: the organization “Americans for Prosperity”. “Given the challenges in the next primary states, we do not believe that an outside group can make a difference in broadening their path to victory,” the conservative network wrote in its farewell. This means that Haley is turning his back on one of the financially strongest supporters.

The influential billionaire Charles Koch is behind “Americans for Prosperity.” The 88-year-old owns an empire of oil and chemical companies and is one of the richest people in the world. Forbes puts his fortune at around $55 billion. Koch has been involved in politics since the 1960s. He himself is a libertarian through and through and advocates for a state that stays out of almost all citizens’ concerns and, if possible, does not charge any taxes.

When the arch-conservative and critical of the central government Tea Party formed within the Republican Party in the 2000s, Koch was one of the first major donors. He tried vehemently to prevent Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012 – in vain. Although he and Donald Trump had a common opponent in the then US President, the two billionaires never came together politically. On the contrary: In order to prevent Trump from being re-elected, “Americans for Prosperity” put everything on Nikki Haley.

Charles Koch and Donald Trump are not friends

To the energy billionaire from Kansas, the real estate billionaire from New York was a sleazy upstart with questionable ideas about immigration, which, in Koch’s view, is urgently needed for the USA. Nevertheless, measures from Trump’s time in office were well received – such as the corporate tax cut from 35 to 21 percent and the appointment of three ultra-conservative judges to the Supreme Court.

The fact that Charles Koch still chose Nikki Haley instead of the (pre-)election favorite Donald Trump also says a lot about her political ideas. They are also far to the right, although the tone is a lot milder than Trump or the eliminated candidate Ron DeSantis from Florida. For example, Haley rejects abortions that are too late, taxes that are too high, and immigration that is too lax. She is critical of unions and gay marriage. Only when it comes to the Ukraine war does she – unlike many Trump Republicans – clearly stand on the side of the country attacked by Russia.

“No money down the rat hole”

In addition to Charles Koch’s “Americans for Prosperity”, other entrepreneurs are supporting the former US ambassador to the United Nations: Stanley Druckenmiller, a well-known hedge fund manager in the USA, and Ken Langone, co-founder of the home improvement chain Home Depot. The latter, however, has already expressed initial concerns after the vote in New Hampshire. You don’t “throw money down a rat hole,” he said in mid-January after their rather poor start to the primary.

As is usual in the USA, the two raise money through a “Super PAC”. These organizations act as fundraisers for candidates during election campaigns. Officially they appear independently of the respective people, but de facto they carry out election campaigns by using the donations to advertise for or against a candidate. The “Super PACs” have so far spent almost $150 million on Nikki Haley. About a third of that came from Charles Koch’s “Americans for Prosperity” fund.

When it comes to small donations, Trump is ahead of Haley

This money from large donors is joined by millions upon millions of small donations from ordinary citizens. Anything up to $200 is not reportable; Nikki Haley collected around $20 million this way in the last quarter. Compared to Donald Trump’s donations, this is rather modest. His fans gave 60 million to the ex-president in the same period.

The candidates can use every cent. Because the upcoming elections are once again likely to be the most expensive in US history. Ad Impact campaign analysts estimate that more than $10 billion will be spent on the entire US election in November (presidential, congressional and gubernatorial). That is 13 percent more than in 2020. Donald Trump said he collected around a billion dollars in his last election campaign four years ago. That’s about the amount you need to have a chance of getting into the White House by Election Day.

Sources: Fortune, Open Secrets, New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, DPA, AFP, Reuters,, Forbes