Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s husband and U.S. Representative’s brother Jim Clyburn received shares in a company that rented slot machines to a North Carolina tribal casino that needed help policy to open last year, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Clyburn’s brother and a spokesperson for Michael Haley both said the men were providing services to the South Carolina-based Catawba Indian Nation Casino in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. the newspaper reported.
The tribal leader said he met with dozens of federal officials in a transparent and public process over more than a decade as they sought approval to build the casino.
The newspaper said it reviewed documents from Kings Mountain Equipment Supply LLC, which receives 20 cents for every dollar of profit the new Catawba Two Kings Casino generates from its hundreds of slot machines.
A stake in the supply company is held by John B. Clyburn, a brother of Representative Clyburn. The high-ranking Democratic congressman introduced a bill that helped clear one of the last hurdles in getting federal permission to build the casino.
Another stake is held by Michael Haley, husband of the former Republican governor who joined many South Carolina politicians in fighting against the possibility of the Catawbas opening a casino in South Carolina. This led the tribe to their ultimately successful efforts in North Carolina.
Documents reviewed by the newspaper show that the two men hold less than 1% of shares in the company.
Michael Haley received his share of payment for his physics and cybersecurity consulting business for the project in 2018, according to a statement from his company.
Nikki Haley was then UN ambassador to the United States after leaving the governor’s office a year earlier before the end of her term.
As governor, Haley was against the Catawbas opening a casino in South Carolina. She attended the 2021 groundbreaking in North Carolina, but her office said she was only acting as a guest of her husband and never advocated for federal approval for the North Carolina site.
John Clyburn told the newspaper he had consulted with the project on and off for a decade, introducing backers to people he knew, adding “I doubt I’ve discussed” the project with his brother.
John Clyburn received his share of the slot rental company in September 2013, about a week after the Catawbas first sought federal approval for the casino, the newspaper reported. He said he was surprised once the casino opened to get seven or eight payouts from the company ranging from $600 to $1,300.
Representative James Clyburn said he was unaware of his brother’s financial interest in the casino and the two never spoke about the project.
The congressman said his sponsorship of the bill that paved the way for the casino was to help the tribe that has long been neglected.
If his brother benefits from a bill he helped pass, Rep. Clyburn told the Wall Street Journal, “I don’t care. He manages to make a living. I don’t get his permission and I don’t give him mine.
The Catawba Indian Nation has approximately 3,600 members and a 1,000-acre reservation near Rock Hill, South Carolina.
The National Indian Gaming Act of 1993 exempted the Catawbas from a list of tribes that could open casinos in states like South Carolina that normally do not allow gambling.
The Catawbas have spent decades trying to circumvent the law and after years of resistance from South Carolina lawmakers, they redirected their efforts in 2013 to opening up in North Carolina, where they said their ancestors held land before the arrival of Europeans in North America.
The casino in Kings Mountain, North Carolina has about 1,000 slot machines in temporary buildings and has doubled its floor plan after being open for less than six months. The Catawbas are planning a permanent installation with a 29-story hotel that could triple the number of slot machines.
Catawba Chief Bill Harris said the tribe was working with the National Indian Gaming Commission on unspecified issues that have delayed the start of construction on the permanent casino.
The stakes held by Michael Haley and John Clyburn are not with Kings Mountain Equipment Supply LLC itself, but rather with another company called AGS of North Carolina LLC which itself held a 10.1% stake in Kings Mountain Equipment Supply, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.