SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania — Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is in the process of filing a lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James for allegedly leaking to the press a list of donors to her nonprofit Stand for America.
Last week Haley released the findings of the New York Freedom of Information Act request she filed late last month with James' office.
Haley's team requested records of all Freedom of Information Act requests about Stand for America from Jan. 1, 2019, to the present. James' office responded, "Please be advised that the Office of the Attorney General has conducted a diligent search and has located no records that respond to your request."
The attorney general's answer raises more questions than answers and leaves open the possibility that the attorney general's office illegally sent donor data or emailed it via unofficial emails, then leaked it to Documented, the watchdog group that gave Haley's donor list to Politico.
Last Tuesday, Haley sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding that the Department of Justice investigate the illegal delivery, receipt and public disclosure of a list of the identities of donors to Stand for America.
"These illicit acts are subject to criminal penalties, and it is your duty to launch an inquiry, follow the facts wherever they lead, and prosecute," she wrote. Haley added that once Garland's office has concluded its investigation, it should prosecute all those responsible to the fullest extent permitted by law.
The materials, which contained donor names — all influential men and women in the conservative movement — were leaked in August to Politico in a chilling act of intimidation against conservative political speech. Haley, a Republican, has been an outspoken critic of New York's no-bail laws and believes this is an instance of retaliation.
Haley launched Stand for America after leaving the Trump administration in 2019. In an interview with the Washington Examiner while she was campaigning with Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz in Delaware County, Haley said that when she was first contacted by Politico about the donor list, she was stunned by the outlet's access to something that was supposed to remain private.
"They say they have it," she said. "We say, 'Show it to us.' They send it to us and, look at the back page, it's stamped by the New York State Attorney General's Office."
"This is how liberals behave," she added. "Once again, they were upset that I was calling out what was going on in New York state, and they are upset that I'm calling out Biden for his failings, and they are trying to intimidate conservatives to be silent or hide in the shadows. We're not going to let it happen. We're suing the New York state attorney general, and I am going to Merrick Garland and saying, 'You need to investigate what happened, and you owe us an answer on this, and we're going to keep on fighting through this.'"
"Republicans have been too nice for too long," she said. "At the end of the day, there's no time to whine and complain about this. This is time to fight, and we go back, and we're going to hold her accountable."
Haley has been all over the country with conservative candidates running for office, as was the case with Oz here in suburban Philadelphia.
The audience here gave her a warm welcome: After the event, several attendees said they were impressed with her delivery, her willingness to take the fight to the Left and her grace. Some said they would love to see her run for president in 2024.
The first female governor of the Palmetto State has a formidable record of helping candidates in Republican primaries this cycle: Her endorsement record shows she went 6-for-6 in GOP primaries in Iowa.
She was also successful in her home state's most competitive Republican congressional primaries in June, when U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., defeated challenger Katie Arrington. In that race, she went head-to-head with former President Donald Trump and won.
Haley's fall schedule, which included this crowded event with Oz, is packed with travel plans that will take her across the country to headline events with various candidates. Her efforts to stump for candidates around the country could prove to be a wise investment of time and effort if she chooses to run in the Republican primary for president in 2024.
Haley said that when she talks to voters at events such as this one, she finds that it is the media and the Democrats who are myopically focused on Trump. They are missing what is really motivating voters to the polls.
"Frankly, I'm not hearing voters talk about Trump or Biden," she said. "What they're talking about is that gas prices are high, and that's how they get to work. Grocery prices are high, and that's how they feed their family. And they are frustrated and scared of the very idea that they're having to dip into their savings accounts to pay for both. The idea that utility bills are going through the roof, or they can't get basic supplies for their homes or businesses; that's what they're talking about. And they're talking about crime on the streets and border. They're talking about education for their kids. They don't feel like they have the luxury of politics. They just want someone to hear them and fight for them because they feel like we got to get things back on track."
After her event with Oz, Haley left Pennsylvania for Georgia, where she was doing an event with Herschel Walker in his quest to unseat incumbent Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock. "I feel like we're in a different state all the time," she said, laughing. "What I can tell you is we've endorsed over 50 candidates. We raised over four and a half million dollars. We're not going to stop until we get to Election Day."
As for the release of her documents, Haley said she is not going to back down in demanding answers for that as well — not just for herself, but for all the conservative groups and conservatives whose private information has been illegally leaked by government officials as a form of political punishment.
"These disclosures aren't just meant to intimidate people," she said. "They are a violation of federal and state law, and I am not just going to stand aside any longer as liberals use government power as a weapon against conservatives."
Haley is a true dragon slayer. When she was wrongly accused by "The View" host Sunny Hostin for being a 'chameleon' for not using her Indian first name, Haley shot back, saying, "Nikki is my name. It is on my birth certificate. It is an Indian name, and I embrace my Indian heritage. I have written two books that describe the struggles that my family had, what it was like growing up."
"It's not the first time, and it won't be the last time that the hosts of 'The View' come after me or that liberals come after me in ... whatever way," Haley said. 'They can't stand the fact that a minority female would be a conservative Republican."
Salena Zito has held a long, successful career as a national political reporter. Born and bred in Pittsburgh, she worked for the Pittsburgh Tribute-Review for 11 years. She has interviewed every U.S. president and vice president since 1992, as well as top leaders in Washington, D.C., including secretaries of state, speakers of the House and U.S. Central Command generals. Salena joined the New York Post in September 2016. She acts as a CNN political analyst, and a staff reporter and columnist for the Washington Examiner. Read Salena Zito's Reports — More Here.