A national Republican group spent $900,000 to ensure Gov. Nikki Haley’s election, soliciting donations from tobacco manufacturers, oil companies, health care and pharmaceutical businesses, construction firms and trade groups.
The money was spent by two S.C. political action committees set up by the Republican Governors Association.
The State newspaper and others previously have reported the GOP group was running ads on Haley’s behalf. But campaign reports filed last month, which include donors, show the group spent more than previously thought.
The state-based PACs are part of a new strategy of the Republican Governors Association to influence governors’ races across the country.
Most of the money was spent on advertising during the contest’s final weeks, according to campaign finance reports, including a television ad that declared Democratic opponent Vincent Sheheen to be an “Obama liberal in our own backyard.”
The Republican Governors group prominently has featured Haley, and other newly minted Republican winners, in Web advertising.
Haley’s office declined to comment for this story. However, a Greenville-based Republican political consultant said the ad was the GOP’s way of supporting a possible future star.
“They certainly see her as a rising star,” said Chip Felkel, of Haley’s possible national profile. “They see she has a lot of potential.”
Efforts to reach the Republican Governors Association on Monday, a federal holiday, were unsuccessful.
Sheheen, too, benefited from national money.
The Democratic Governors Association gave $500,000 to the S.C. Democratic Party to run a TV ad on behalf of the Kershaw County state senator, according to state campaign finance reports.
The largest donation to the two pro-Haley accounts, set up by the Republican Governors, came from cigarette-maker Reynolds American, which contributed $125,000 to the RGA South Carolina IE, or independent expenditure, PAC. That group filed its initial paperwork with the State Ethics Commission just days prior to the election. It spent about $205,000 on media.
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