Nikki Haley

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Nikki Haley, 116th Governor of South Carolina

Nikki Haley is the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. Before accepting this position, she was the Republican governor of South Carolina. She previously served in the General Assembly for the 87th District of South Carolina from 2004 to 2010. [1] Haley is also an American Legislative Exchange Council ALEC alumna, who has pushed many ALEC cookie-cutter policies as Governor. [2] Haley maintains a conservative record by voting in favor of voter ID laws, abortion restrictions, lowering taxes, and was even ranked the 21st most conservative governor in 2013 by Nate Silver. [3]

Koch Wiki

Charles Koch is the right-wing billionaire owner of Koch Industries. As one of the richest people in the world, he is a key funder of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on Charles Koch and his late brother David include: Koch Brothers, Americans for Prosperity, Stand Together Chamber of Commerce, Stand Together, Koch Family Foundations, Koch Universities, and I360.

Ties to ALEC, Koch Brothers

During her years in the South Carolina legislature, Haley was a member of the right-wing [[American Legislative Exchange Council], [4] a group of legislators and lobbyists that meet behind closed doors to produce "model" cookie-cutter legislation that is then introduced in state houses across the country stripped of its ALEC/industry origins. In 2001, the Center for Media and Democracy published ALEC model bills for the first time and they include attacks on unions, the environment and voting. See more at For her possible 2014 re-election bid, a $1,000-per couple fundraiser in South Carolina was held on August 26, 2013, by fellow ALEC governors, Texas Governor Rick Perry, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. [5] Haley also released a statement commending fellow ALEC member, Gov. Scott Walker, after winning his recall election after his attempt to end public sector collective bargaining rights in 2011: [6]

"Congratulations to my friend, Gov. Scott Walker. Tonight, he proved that standing strong for the principles of fiscal responsibility is not only the right policy, but is rewarded by voters. It's a great example for the rest of the country."

During her campaigning from 2010 onward, Haley has accepted funds from 37 ALEC Corporations according to a 2013 analysis, with funding amounting to at least $170,000. These corporations include but aren't limited to: [7]

Although, Coca-Cola, General Motors, General Electric, Kraft Foods, Wal-Mart, Wells Fargo, Intuit, and Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance are not current ALEC Corporations, all eight of these corporations made donations to Haley while they were members of ALEC in 2010.

As a advocate for big-business and a "GOP rising star," Haley also joined a Koch brothers meeting in the winter of 2013, to discuss the GOP's failure in the 2012 election. [8][9]

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's, and check out breaking news on our site.

Nikki Haley Changes Tune On Support for Trump

NNikki Haley was an early critic of President-elect Donald Trump. Haley initially endorsed Florida Senator Marco Rubio during the GOP primary election, then threw her support behind Senator Ted Cruz.

When Haley was tapped by Republicans to respond to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address on January 12, 2016, the South Carolina Governor took aim at Trump who at the time was a front-runner in a crowded GOP primary. Haley recounted her family's own immigrant experience in denouncing Trump's hard-line anti-immigration rhetoric, "During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices," Haley said. "We must resist that temptation. No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country."[10]

The day following Trump's proposal to bar all Muslims from entering the United States in December, Governor Haley made a scathing statement calling Trump's plan "unconstitutional" and "embarrassing". The following month Haley said Trump represented "everything a governor doesn't want in a president."[11]

In October, 2016 Haley began to soften her tone on the Republican nominee, claiming she would in fact vote for him, but was not a fan. One week following Trump's election Haley appeared with Trump in New York. She is now being considered for a cabinet position in the administration.[12]

Cookie-Cutter ALEC Policies

Big-Business Advocate, "War on Rural South Carolina"

With her previous involvement in ALEC, support of the private sector, and commitment to lowering taxes, Haley has strived to bring manufacturing and business back to South Carolina. However, Haley supported the shut down of unemployment claims clinics in 17 of South Carolina's poorest counties because of the lack of funding in 2013, but added, "It's a good thing when you downsize government." [13]

On the recent news portion of the website, Haley continues her surge to bring new and more businesses to South Carolina by commending the expansions and openings of plants and facilities for Monteferro USA, Tognum America Inc., ZFT Transmission, Standard Textile, and more. Each news release also includes the amount of money included in the investment, and how many jobs each expansion will add to the area. [14] Haley has focused much of her efforts on lowering the unemployment rate in the state. As of July 2013, the United States unemployment rate stood at 7.4% [15] while South Carolina has an unemployment rate at 8.1% [16]

Union Busting and "Union Thugs"

Haley believes a highly-unionized state will counter her efforts to attract big businesses to South Carolina, similar to Scott Walker's efforts to eliminate unions in Wisconsin. In a FOX News interview with Gretchen van Susteren, Haley stated her support for Walker's actions and her hope for South Carolina to conform more to Wisconsin's anti-union legislation. [17] During the same interview, Haley spoke of her hatred of union "thugs," and her plans to bust unions in South Carolina, after viewing a video of an opponent hitting a pinata with her image: [17]

  • "This is typical of union thugs. And I will tell you in, the past week, the Dems have come after me with a racial slur and the union thugs have hit me with a pinata."
  • "I'm not going to stop beating up on the unions. I'm not going to stop beating up on the Democrats for wasteful spending."
  • "There's a reason South Carolina's the new "it" state and it's because we're a union buster and it's because we continue to be fiscally responsible and business-friendly. And there's nothing the Democrats or the unions can do to make me change that."
  • "It just shows the stark difference between businesses and unions and how they handle -- unions tend to bully and they boss and they try and get their way."

Promoting ALEC-Sponsored Voter ID Laws

Haley promoted a bill in 2011 to require a photo ID to vote in the state, based on claims of much voter fraud occurring during elections. The bill was struck down by a federal court in 2012 for the bills' discrimination toward minority voters. Haley also faced much backlash from House Democratic Leader, Tom Rutherford, after reports surfaced claiming voter fraud was not an issue in South Carolina. Rutherford demanded an apology from Haley from deceiving the public to believe voter fraud was a pressing issue, and wasting taxpayer money for "their incompetence." [18] The bill also did not recognize student IDs as a valid form of identification, greatly lowering the largely-Democratic youth vote. [19]

Education Reform: School Choice, Vouchers, and Businesses

Even though she herself and her children attended public schools, Haley sees ALEC supported school-choice programs, also known as voucher programs, as a necessary fix to South Carolina's struggling school system: [20]

“Parents should be able to decide where they send their kids to school,” Haley said. “So, I have said the second they can get that bill to my desk, I absolutely will sign it.”
Gov. Haley on education reform

In May 2012, Haley signed H. 3241, the Charter Schools bill, another ALEC piece of model legislation, and said of the new law: ""It is a great day in South Carolina. We will no longer settle for what we think education has to be, we will lead in this country on what education should be -- and that means options, innovation and creativity." [21]

Haley also met with corporations like AT&T, an ALEC corporation member and state co-chair of six states, to talk education reform on July 31, 2013. Pamela Lackey, president of AT&T of South Carolina said South Carolina needed education reform to "meet the needs of today's businesses." [22]

"War on Women", Coverage of Contraception, Pro-Life Stance

Haley says her pro-life stance does not come from her Republican ideology, but of her difficulty to have children, and her husband's adoption as an infant. She also says the mandating of organization to include contraception in their coverage in the Affordable Care Act should not be under government jurisdiction. [23]

In July 2012, Haley also vetoed $500,000 to be used for rape crisis centers, calling them "special add-on lines [that] distrct from the [Department of Health]'s broad mission of protecting South Carolina's public health," [24] despite much opposition because the state's rate of sexual violence is higher than the national average, and has been for the last 30 years. [25]

In terms of the "war on women" by GOP legislators during the 2012 election, Haley says the idea is simply a "distraction" used by the Barack Obama campaign to avoid discussing his first term record.

"Well, I mean how many times can we say the word "distraction"? That's what President Obama is doing. He doesn't want us talking about his record. He doesn't want us talking about how he has raised more debt in three years than President Bush has in eight. He doesn't want us talking about the fact that he said if we would take the stimulus money we would never get above eight percent unemployment. So this is a President that is trying to create distractions. There is no war on women. Women are doing well." [26]

Anti-Immigration, Copies Arizona Law

In 2011, Haley signed a law similar to SB 1070 [27] from Arizona that allows authorities to check the immigration status of any person who is arrested or stopped. [28] The law was blocked in December 2011 by a federal judge. [29] Haley said through her spokesperson, Rob Godfrey, that the state has to address illegal immigration because immigration laws are not being enforced on the national level. [29]

Support of Pro-Gun Legislation

In August 2010, Haley was endorsed by the Gun Owners of America during her run during the gubernatorial election. Haley said of the endorsement:

“Few things are as clearly defined as the right of individual Americans to own and use firearms. The right to bear arms was deemed so critical by our Founders that they spelled it out in absolute terms, and it is my belief that any governmental action that undermines that right is in turn undermining the very freedoms that built our great nation. I hold a Concealed Weapons Permit myself, and as governor, I will continue to fight against any government infringement on the 2nd Amendment.” [30]

She also has an "A" rating by the National Rifle Association. [31]

The "Nightmare" Affordable Care Act

With the federal expansion of Medicaid underway, Haley commended South Carolina House right-wing legislators for their work opposing Medicaid expansion, which she called a "looming public policy nightmare and fiscal disaster."

"If history has proven anything, it's that there is no such thing as a temporary entitlement program, and as House Republicans recognize, ObamaCare will be as bad a policy three years from now as it is today. [32]

Due to her opposition and the state's House rejection of expansion, South Carolina will not participate in the federal expansion of Medicaid. Instead, the House voted to allocate $88.5 to hospitals and medical providers for support when uninsured residents come under their care. [33] Many supporters of the expansion, including South Carolina Hospital Association, the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, and the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, said it would add 40,000 jobs to the state, and the money will go to other states if South Carolina didn't take it. [33]

Political Controversies

Outside Constitutional Authority

In early June 2011, Haley issued an executive order requiring the state legislature to reconvene, however she was challenged by a 13-page lawsuit from the former Senate leader and current lieutenant governor, Glenn McConnell (R-Charleston). The lawsuit claimed her order was outside her power as an executive, and breached the separation of branches. Despite McConnell's claim about its unconstitutionality, Haley claimed she held that right because "exercising this constitutional power rests in the Governor's sound discretion." [34] The court ruled in a 3-2 vote in favor of McConnell.

Ethical Charges

After her time as a state representative, claims against Haley surfaced that she had illegally lobbied, in addition to breaking other ethics laws, during her term. Lexington Medical Center and Wilbur Smith Associates were the alleged recipients of her lobbying efforts. During this time, Lexington Medical Center was trying to gain state approval for an open-heart surgery center. Haley was also accused of accepting funds and gifts from lobbyists and corporations for the hospital. [35] The six-member House Ethics Committee began meeting behind closed doors for over a month. Committee members did say the South Carolina law regarding lobbying and ethics were vague, and open to interpretation. Haley's attorney, Swati Patel, added similar investigations might ensue if action was taken against Haley. [35] Senate Democratic Caucus director, Phil Bailey, pointed to an August 2008 email to Lexington Medical chief executive Mike Biediger:[35]

“We have some work to do not only to switch votes (on the heart center) but to hold the ones we have. We are as close as we are going to get and can’t afford to leave one stone unturned. … Fingers crossed!”

The committee ultimately voted 5-1 in favor of not investigating Haley further.

Hate-Group Affiliated Staffer

In May 2013, the Southern Poverty Law Center accused a Haley grassroots steering committee member of belonging to the Council of Conservative Citizens, designated by SPLC as a "white nationalist hate group." [36] Committee member Roan Garcia-Quintana was asked to step down by Haley's administration a week after calls for her resignation were made, through a statement: [37]

"While we appreciate the support Roan has provided, we were previously unaware of some of the statements he had made, statements which do not well represent the views of the Governor. There is no place for racially divisive rhetoric in the politics or governance of South Carolina, and Governor Haley has no tolerance for it."

Awards and Affliations


Haley has a focus on membership in business, women's, and medical foundations. These affiliations include: [31]

  • Director at the Orangebury County Chamber of Commerce (1998)
  • Director at the Lexington Chamber of Commerce (2003)
  • Treasurer then President of the National Association of Women Business Owners (2003-2004)
  • Lexington Medical Foundation
  • Lexington County Sheriff's Foundation
  • West Metro Republican Women
  • Friends of Scouting Leadership Division
  • Rotary Club


Her political awards include: [31]

  • "Friend of the Taxpayer" award by the South Carolina Association of Taxpayers (2011)
  • "A" rating from the South Carolina Club for Growth
  • "A" rating from the Palmetto Family Council
  • "A" rating from the National Rifle Association


Haley was born in Bamburg, South Carolina, and is the daughter of Indian immigrants. She graduated from Clemson University with a degree in accounting, and worked as an accountant for a private company, after keeping the books for her family's clothing store.

She has a husband Michael, who serves for the South Carolina National Guard and Army National Guard, and has two children, Rena and Nalin. [1]


Office of the Governor
1205 Pendleton Street
Columbia, SC 29201
Telephone: (803) 734-2100
Fax: (803) 734-5167 [38]


  1. 1.0 1.1 About: Governor Bio accessed August 7, 2013
  2. South Carolina State Ethics Commission, Expenditures: Candidate: Haley, Nikki R, Office: State House Representative, Locale/District: 87, state public disclosure and accountability reporting system, January 1, 2008 to July 1, 2008, accessed July 2012.
  3. Silver, Nate In-State Governments Signs of a Healthier GOP April 16, 2013
  4. South Carolina State Ethics Commission, Expenditures: Candidate: Haley, Nikki R, Office: State House Representative, Locale/District: 87, state public disclosure and accountability reporting system, January 1, 2008 to July 1, 2008, accessed July 2012.
  5. Beam, Adam SC Governor gets fundraising help from GOP Govs. Jindal, Perry, and Walker The State, August 1, 2013
  6. Haley, Nikki Statement from Gov. Nikki Haley on Wisconsin's Election Results June 25, 2012
  7. Contributions to Nikki Haley, Follow the Money, accessed August 9, 2013.
  8. Confessore, Nicholas Koch brothers plan more political involvement for their conservative network, The New York Times, April 30, 2013
  9. Ken Vogel, Big Money, the Koch Brothers and Me, Politico, May 29, 2014.
  10. Greogry Krieg, Nikki Haley to Donald Trump: Turn down the volume, CNN, January 13, 2016.
  11. Daniella Diaz, Nikki Haley: Anyone but Donald Trump, CNN, February 17, 2016.
  12. Jim Acosta and Daniella Diaz, Source: Haley under consideration for State Dept., Trump meeting Thursday, CNN, November 16, 2016.
  13. Shain, Andrew Dems say Gov. Nikki Haley has declared war on rural SC The State, February 5, 2013
  14. Gov Nikki Haley: Recent News governor's official website, accessed August 9, 2013
  15. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Unemployment Rate in United States, accessed August 9, 2013
  16. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Unemployment Rate in South Carolina, accessed August 9, 2013
  17. 17.0 17.1 Decency takes beating along Nikki Haley pinata FOX News, May 24, 2012
  18. Wing, Nick Nikki Haley Takes Heat After Report Blows Up 'Bogus' Voter Fraud in South Carolina The Huffington Post, July 9, 2013
  19. Smith, Gina Haley signs Voter ID bill into law The State, May 8, 2011
  20. Nikki Haley: Parents Deserve Choice March 31, 2011
  21. Haley, Nikki Haley, Zais, Owens Celebrate Charter Schools Bill Signing May 14, 2012
  22. Beam, Adam Gov. Nikki Haley meets with business leaders to discuss education reform The State, July 31, 2013
  23. CNN: The Situation Room April 5, 2012
  24. Strasser, Annie-Rose South Carolina Gov Vetoes Abuse and Rape Prevention Funding, Calls It a Distraction Think Progress, July 10, 2012
  25. South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Sexual Assault Facts
  26. Gov. Nikki Haley: no spin zone Fox News: O'Reilly Factor transcript, April 9, 2012
  27. Arizona Legislature, SB 1070 accessed August 9, 2013
  28. Mustufa, Asraa South Carolina's Gov. Nikki Haley Makes Good on Anti-Immigrant Promises Colorlines, June 30, 2011
  29. 29.0 29.1 Brown, Robbie Parts of Immigration Law blocked in South Carolina The New York Times, December 23, 2011
  30. Gun Owners of America Gun Owners of America Endorses Nikki Haley for Governor August 30, 2010
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 Rep. Nikki Randhawa Haley Bio Official site
  32. Nikki Haley Gov. Nikki Haley: House GOP fighting to protect SC from fiscal disaster of Medicaid expansion March 12, 2013
  33. 33.0 33.1 Brown, Kirk, S.C. House Republicans reject Democrats' effort to expand Medicaid program, Independent Mail, March 12, 2013
  34. Fox News, SC Supreme Court says Gov. Nikki Haley acted outside constitutional authority June 7, 2011
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 Smith, Gina, Haley cleared of illegal lobbying, The State, May 3, 2012
  36. Reilly, Molly, Nikki Haley Volunteer Steps Down Amid Controversy, The Huffington Post, May 26, 2013
  37. Pearson, Tim, Haley asks controversial volunteer to resign, May 31, 2013
  38. Contact the Governor's Office