A campaign consultant for Republican presidential hopeful and former UN ambassador Nikki Haley previously lobbied for a Chinese company identified as a national security threat by the federal government.
Public finance records from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) show Haley’s campaign paid nearly $62,000 for political consulting and travel expenses to the 1060 Group, a Texas firm registered to Rick Wiley. According to his LinkedIn page, Wiley is currently a partner at Black Diamond Strategies, where his resume includes work for the ZTE Corporation, a Chinese firm that federal officials have warned presents a risk to national security for more than a decade.
Wiley registered as a lobbyist for a law firm operating “on behalf of” the Chinese corporation in November 2018. The registration came six months after a top U.S. counterintelligence official told lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee that ZTE presents a national security risk. Bill Evanina, who served as director of the Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) under the Trump administration, warned in 2018 that Chinese telecommunications firms are often used as instruments of espionage, and said he would never use a ZTE phone. The Chinese company agreed to pay a $1 billion fine that same year for repeatedly violating U.S. sanctions by assisting entities in Iran and North Korea.
Public concerns over ZTE’s use as a vehicle for Chinese surveillance date at least as far back to 2012. After a year-long investigation, the House Intelligence Committee concluded ZTE was a national security threat due to its efforts to “extract sensitive information from American companies” and its “loyalties to the Chinese government.”
Wiley deregistered as a lobbyist for the Chinese firm in 2019. The public filing shows Black Diamond Strategies raked in $140,000 for his efforts to lobby on behalf of the Chinese telecom company.
FEC records also show the Stand for America PAC, a major political action committee of Haley’s, paid Wiley’s 1060 Group nearly $21,000 for travel and political consulting.
With just more than two months until the Iowa caucuses, Haley has run on a platform of aggressive foreign policy, voicing her support for confronting overseas threats facing Taiwan and Ukraine with American intervention. Last week, the Stand for America PAC debuted a new ad titled “Strength” to promote Haley as a “the conservative China fears most.” The ad begins with the former South Carolina governor speaking at a campaign rally about the rise of communist China.
“China’s dictators want to cover the world in communist tyranny, and we’re the only ones who can stop them,” Haley says. “Communist China won’t just lose. Communist China will end up on the ash heap of history.”
This summer, Haley published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about her “Plan to Confront the Chinese Threat.” The top item on her “comprehensive plan” is to “root out Chinese influence in the U.S.” Haley cited the Chinese purchase of American land and the proliferation of propaganda centers at American universities.
“The U.S. government should also ban all lobbying from the Communist Party and Chinese companies, which are front groups for the regime,” she wrote.
On Taiwan, Haley warned that the outcome in Ukraine will determine Beijing’s next move in the South China Sea.
“Failure in Europe will encourage war in Asia,” she wrote. “We should give Taiwan everything it needs to defend itself and ward off a Chinese invasion. If China attacks, it will trigger the war that none of us want.”
Haley will appear on stage Wednesday night at the third 2024 Republican presidential primary debate in Miami. The Trump-era ambassador will be alongside four other candidates who qualified for the prime-time event including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott. Former President Donald Trump, who leads the primary field by more than 44 points in the aggregate of surveys by RealClearPolitics, will skip the debate. Haley is polling just below 9 percent in the RealClear aggregate.
A spokesperson for the Haley campaign denied Wiley’s affiliation with ZTE.
“Rick Wiley is not a foreign lobbyist, nor did he work for ZTE. His name was mistakenly listed on an account associated with his firm and subsequently removed,” said the Haley campaign.
This article has been updated since publication.