South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is an unlikely choice to join the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump as ambassador to the United Nations.
It isn’t just that she lacks significant foreign policy experience. The 44-year-old daughter of Sikh immigrant parents, Haley was also a vocal critic of the former reality TV star’s performance on the campaign trail. She slammed his refusal to disavow endorsements from white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and labeled his rhetoric on racial issues “irresponsible” in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show.
But while Trump may be willing to rebuild bridges with formerly #NeverTrump GOP officeholders burned during the campaign, some of his more ideologically extreme supporters are unwilling to forgive and forget.
A post on the conservative news site WeSearchr aims to raise money for a crowdfunded investigation into rumors about Haley’s alleged extramarital affairs. “We know she cheated,” the post reads. “Now let’s prove it.”
Billing itself as a “Kickstarter for Internet dirt,” WeSearchr allows users to put up their own money as a reward for independent journalists. In practice, the platform has largely been used to chase down right-wing conspiracy theories.
Other bounties currently running on the site include an investigation into the shooting death of former DNC staffer Seth Rich, suggesting he was murdered in connection with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and an effort to scientifically determine the racial background of New York Daily News columnist and Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King.
As she was running for the South Carolina governorship in 2010, Haley was dogged by rumors about extramarital affairs. She repeatedly denied those allegations. In an interview with the Columbia, South Carolina-based radio station WVOC, Haley slammed the rumors as “South Carolina dirty politics” and pledged to resign if the allegations against her were proven true.
The goal of the bounty, the WeSearchr post argues, is to assist the president-elect in the vetting process of the next U.N. ambassador. “Nikki Haley has been a South Carolina politician for a decade now. She has never been a national, let alone international political figure,” the post reads. “If she is really being considered for a post in the Trump Administration, let alone the U.N. ambassadorship, she will be a target of foreign intelligence agencies for blackmail for the first time. That’s right: the Chinese and the KGB.”
THE TRUTH WILL NOT REVEAL ITSELF
“If the Nikki Haley cheating rumors are true,” it continues, “she’s going to be easily blackmailed by foreign governments, who are going to find the evidence much more easily than WeSearchr will.”
However, the site is not hosting similar bounties intended to uncover any type of scandalous information about other potential Trump administration appointees such as Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who Trump selected as his chief of staff, or retired Gen. Michael Flynn, who Trump has tapped as his national security adviser.
Users of the WeSearchr platform can post a bounty if they so choose. The investigation into Haley’s personal life, however, was initiated by company staffers. The effort has thus far only netted $1,000 of its $10,000 goal, which will be returned to donors if the campaign is not fully funded.
WeSearchr was co-founded by controversial conservative internet trolls Pax Dickinson and Charles Johnson. Dickinson was forced to resign from his position as the chief technical officer at the online news site Business Insider in 2013 after the discovery of tweets he had made attacking women, blacks and members of the LGBT community.
Formerly a reporter at Breitbart – whose former chairman, Stephen Bannon, has been named as a senior adviser in the Trump administration — Johnson is best known for running Got News.
On the site, which regularly boosted the Trump campaign and currently has multiple articles on its front page bashing Haley, Johnson previously attempted to publicly identify “Jackie,” the pseudonymous woman at the center of Rolling Stone‘s retracted story about a reported gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity. Johnson ended up mistakenly identifying someone completely unaffiliated with the scandal. Other Got News investigations, such as an attempt to prove former Newark, New Jersey Mayor Corey Booker didn’t actually live in Newark, were similarly debunked.
Johnson may be charging hard against Haley’s proposed appointment, but that sentiment is far from universal.
On the fledgling social network Gab, which has become a haven for white nationalists following a recent mass suspension of alt-right Twitter accounts that included Dickinson’s, some users slammed Trump’s association with Haley while others praised it as a shrewd political maneuver that would turn the South Carolina statehouse over to the state’s lieutenant governor, who was one of the earliest sitting GOP officials to back Trump during the primary campaign.
Representatives from the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did representatives from WeSearchr.