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Nikki Haley lists up to $1 million in debt as she steps down as U.N. ambassador

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COLUMBIA — Nikki Haley's political capital and foreign policy credentials skyrocketed during her time as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, but one aspect of the former South Carolina governor's life didn't get the same boost: her personal finances. 

Federal ethics reports show Haley had debt from $525,000 to about $1.1 million in 2017, the latest year available.

Her U.N. office put Haley's overall current debt at less than $500,000 but did not offer specifics. Haley's office added her debts were not why she announced Tuesday that she will resign at the end of the year

Haley listed ranges of debt and income on the federal income disclosure records. As of last year, she owed $25,000 to $65,000 on two credit cards and listed a mortgage and a line of credit each for $250,000 to $500,000.

She claimed to have $1,000 to $15,000 in the bank and earned roughly $10,000 last year with a month's salary as governor before she was confirmed as ambassador. She also listed that she made no money last year from her 2012 memoir "Can't is Not an Option."

Her earnings did not include her salary at the U.N., which is about $180,000 a year.

Michael Haley earned $50,000 to $100,000 last year from a Lexington shopping center he bought from the ambassador's parents and had $15,000 to $50,000 in a bank account, according to Nikki Haley's disclosure form. Michael Haley works for the S.C. National Guard.

Haley's planned resignation from the U.N. was a surprise to many, creating a frenzy of speculation about why she would leave the influential Cabinet position. Former S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford, now a congressman, told MSNBC that her departure at the end of the year did not pass his smell test.

Haley suggested she is about to find a job after six years in the South Carolina governor's office and two years as United Nations ambassador. 

In her resignation letter to President Donald Trump, she wrote: "As a businessman, I expect you will appreciate my sense that returning from government to the private sector is not a step down but a step up."

A spokeswoman for Haley sent a statement that said, “The Haleys' debt that was disclosed in 2017 is very different from what it is today. ... Their current debt level is well below $500,000, and it had no bearing whatsoever on Ambassador Haley’s decision to leave her position.”

Haley's finances have received attention in the past, notably how they see-sawed before she became governor 2010. 

Her family earnings swayed from $65,700 in 2004 to $40,300 in 2006 to $196,300 in 2009 when she got a job with Lexington Medical Center, according to tax returns shared with reporters.

The Haleys' earnings peaked at $284,556 in 2013 with Nikki Haley's salary as governor, proceeds from real estate investments and the first payment for her memoir but fell after that. She donated the book advance to a charity she started.

Last year, the Haleys managed to reduce some of their debt by selling the shopping center that once housed Nikki Haley parents' clothing store, Exotica International.

A firm run by Michael Haley, IKOR Systems, bought a Lexington strip shopping center from Nikki Haley's parents for $5 in July 2017, property records show. IKOR also assumed nearly $1.1 million owed on the center.

IKOR sold the center for $1.2 million in January to a firm run by Columbia-area property manager Rick Tangri, according to Lexington County and state records. A representative of Tangri's company said he does not have ties to the Haleys.

Based on sales records, Michael Haley's firm made a little more than $160,000 from the sale after settling debts on the center.

But some of Haley's relatives also are having financial issues.

The home of Haley's parents, Ajit and Raj Randhawa, is going through foreclosure, according to court records.

A hearing with the Lexington master-in-equity for the 5,487-square-foot lakefront home valued at $1.1 million is scheduled for Oct. 30.

The Randhawas owe $740,708, according to court documents.

Reach Andrew Brown at 843-708-1830 or follow him on Twitter @andy_ed_brown.

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