COLUMBIA — A political group run by supporters of Gov. Nikki Haley will run a series of television ads starting next week.
The Movement Fund has spent $126,000 to air ads in the Charleston, Greenville-Spartanburg and Florence-Myrtle Beach TV markets over the first 10 days in May, said Tim Pearson, an adviser both to the political organization and the governor. The ads were first reported by Politico, a Washington-based website.
Pearson would not disclose the topic of the ads, saying they “will be asking the public to engage in a legislative issue that is of great importance to the state of South Carolina.”
Haley said this week that she wants the Legislature to pass ethics reform, government restructuring to create a Department of Administration, open-records law revisions and a budget that includes money for road repairs before its session ends in June.
The Movement Fund’s ad buy roughly equals the cash that the tax-exempt, federally recognized 527 organization had on hand at the end of 2012, according to Internal Revenue Service filings.
The fund raised $791,000 from April 2011 through the end of 2012.
During last year’s election, the organization spent $400,000 to aid the state Senate campaigns of Katrina Shealy, a Lexington Republican who defeated incumbent Republican Jake Knotts, and Deedee Vaughters, an Aiken Republican who lost a bid to unseat incumbent Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington.
Because Haley adviser Pearson also is an adviser to the Movement Fund, it must run ads on issues or other candidates, and cannot directly advocate for the governor in her expected 2014 re-election bid, according to legal research done on behalf of the organization. Haley is expected to announce this summer that she will run for re-election.
Pearson ran Haley’s 2010 campaign before becoming her chief of staff. He left the governor’s office in October to open a consulting firm to oversee her political operation.
S.C. Democratic Party chairman Dick Harpootlian said Haley is trying to boost her approval numbers that, while up slightly, still stood at 43.5 percent last week.
“She goes out to buy ads to tout that she is doing a great job, instead of going out and doing a great job,” Harpootlian said.
The governor’s 2014 campaign had $2 million on hand as of March 31, according to S.C. Ethics Commission filings.
State Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Kershaw, has announced that he intends to run against Haley again. Sheheen lost the 2010 gubernatorial race to Haley by 4.5 percentage points.