Pro-Nikki Haley group set to make moves in election year after quiet end to 2013

ashain@thestate.comFebruary 4, 2014 

S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley speaks to the Large Urology Group Practice Association annual meeting in Chicago in November in a photo posted on the trade group's website. The association gave a pro-Haley political group $40,000 after the address.

A slow political season meant a relatively quiet second half of 2013 for a pro-Nikki Haley political group. But that will change as the South Carolina governor’s race heats up this year.

The Movement Fund raised $57,000 from four out-of-state contributors late in 2013, while spending more than twice that amount on consultants and lawyers, according to an Internal Revenue Service filing.

The group, which backs the South Carolina governor’s causes, raised $570,000 in the first half of 2013 but spent a good chunk of that money on its first advertising blitz, criticizing Haley’s likely Democratic opponent in November.

The fund had about $173,000 on hand at the end of 2013, said Tim Pearson, an adviser to both the political group and Haley’s re-election campaign.

That goes along with $3.7 million that Haley had on hand in her 2014 re-election coffers as the first-term governor from Lexington tries again to fend off a challenge by Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden.

The Movement Fund did not have an advertising campaign in the last half of 2013. However, earlier in the year, it spent about $300,000 to air television spots questioning Sheheen’s support of nationwide health-care reform.

“In the second half of 2013, there was no legislative session and there were no elections, so the Movement Fund’s activities were limited to making plans for the upcoming legislative session,” Pearson said. “Now that we’re in session, and the fund’s legislative agenda is being considered, you can expect to see more public activity.”

The group received the bulk of its late 2013 donations from the Large Urology Group Practice Association, which contributed $40,000, according to the IRS filing. Haley addressed the trade group’s annual meeting in November in Chicago.

A pair of prison-related businesses also contributed $7,000 to the fund. The pro-Haley group received $5,000 from prison telecommunications firm Global Tel-Link Corp. of Mobile, Ala., and $2,000 from private prisons operator CCA of Nashville. The firms also gave $3,500 each to Haley’s re-election campaign.

The fund also received $10,000 from Alliance Coal president Joseph Craft of Tulsa, Okla.

Pearson’s political consulting firm was paid $51,000 in the last six months of 2013 by the Movement Fund. His firm was paid a total of $110,500 in 2013 from the group.

Pearson’s firm, Salt Box Strategies, also received $52,000 from Haley’s re-election campaign last year, according to S.C. Ethics Commission filings.

Also in late 2013, Red Sea, a D.C.-area consulting firm operated by Haley strategist Jon Lerner, was paid $35,000 by the Movement Fund. Meanwhile, the Bowers Law Office and Womble Carlyle, a pair of Columbia law firms that have done work for Haley, were paid $40,300 combined by the group.

The Movement Fund is what is known as a 527 political group. It can receive unlimited contributions but must report donations and spending.

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