Key Network of Republican Megadonors to Meet With Trump and Haley Camps

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A network of Republican megadonors has invited aides to both Donald J. Trump and Nikki Haley to make presentations at the group’s winter meeting next week, as the wealthy contributors assess the presidential race with just nine months until Election Day.

The network, known as the American Opportunity Alliance, is expected to hear from Ms. Haley’s campaign manager, Betsy Ankney, and Mr. Trump’s top adviser, Susie Wiles, at the gathering in Palm Beach, Fla., according to two people familiar with the event.

The group’s meeting was earlier reported by Puck.

The network was founded a decade ago by a group of wealthy donors, including members of the Ricketts family, which owns the Chicago Cubs, and the investors Paul Singer and Kenneth Griffin.

But the donors in the American Opportunity Alliance do not move in unison, and people supporting Ms. Haley — and who had supported Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who dropped out of the race last Sunday — are part of the network. Some members of the group have been open about wanting a candidate other than Mr. Trump.

But even when officials representing Ms. Haley and Mr. DeSantis presented at the group’s meeting in Dallas in early October — when their campaigns were the only two whose advisers had been invited — some people working with A.O.A. were clear that the focus was more on the general election than on the primary cycle. A Republican strategist working with the group called Mr. Trump’s path to the nomination “straightforward” at the time.

Since then, Mr. Trump has won both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, beating Mr. DeSantis and Ms. Haley in the first contest and Ms. Haley in the second, despite having little by way of major donor money. He also has some supporters who have worked with A.O.A. in the past, such as Linda McMahon, who led the Small Business Administration under President Trump.

Both invitations went out before the New Hampshire primary voting last Tuesday, according to one of the people familiar with the plans.

Ms. Haley has been aggressively fund-raising and is well-funded, as the race heads toward the primary on Feb. 24 in South Carolina, her home state but where Mr. Trump is also popular.

Mr. Trump has begun wooing large donors, as he and his team prepare for a general election in which they anticipate that Democrats will be well-funded. Yet Mr. Trump has a complicated relationship with the party’s major donors. He is also facing four criminal indictments and was ordered by a federal jury in a civil case on Friday to pay the writer E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her decades ago, more than $83 million in damages,

Many of the donors are closely tied to the vestiges of the pre-Trump Republican Party and tried to stop his rise in 2016. Mr. Trump also has repeatedly attacked major donors as being part of the “swamp” that he derides. He issued such a threat this week on his social media platform, Truth Social, when he promised to ice out any donors who supported Ms. Haley going forward.

Ms. Haley’s campaign said the reaction to that threat was the opposite of what Mr. Trump had intended, saying that she had a huge uptick in fund-raising in the 24 hours that followed.

This weekend, the political network established by the industrialist Koch brothers, Americans for Prosperity, is holding its own meeting. The network supported Ms. Haley, but as The New York Times recently reported, some of its donors regretted that endorsement.

At the meeting, held in Indian Wells, Calif., a small group of donors were given a briefing by two top officials with the network’s political arm, Americans for Prosperity Action.

According to two people briefed on what was said, the two senior advisers, Emily Seidel and Michael Palmer, said that backing Ms. Haley had been the right choice but that officials had known it would be a hard climb for anyone to beat Mr. Trump to the nomination.

They also suggested that they would be focusing intensely on Senate and House races, especially if Mr. Trump became the nominee.

Ms. Haley held a video call with the donors at the meeting and answered questions about her path forward, according to one of the people briefed on what had taken place.



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