Aerospace & Defense

Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley resigns from Boeing board, opposing government aid

Key Points
  • The former UN ambassador and ex-South Carolina governor resigned from the troubled company's board after less than a year.
  • Haley said she resigned because she opposes federal support that Boeing is seeking to weather the coronavirus crisis.
  • Boeing's board has been harshly criticized in the wake of two fatal crashes of the 737 Max.
Then South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley speaks during the dedication of Boeing Co.'s $750 million final assembly plant in North Charleston, S.C. on Friday, June 10, 2011.
Bruce Smith | AP

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley stepped down from Boeing's board of directors after less than a year because she opposes government aid to help the aircraft manufacturer weather the coronavirus crisis, the company said Thursday.

Boeing earlier this week said it is seeking $60 billion in government aid for itself and its massive supply chain because of the virus. The manufacturer's suppliers include United Technologies, General Electric, Spirit Aerosystems and dozens of others. The administration hasn't yet said what Boeing, a top U.S. military contractor could receive. President Donald Trump this week threw his support behind the manufacturer, saying: "We have to protect Boeing."

Boeing bailout sticking point in coronavirus aid package; Nikki Haley leaves board
Boeing bailout sticking point in coronavirus aid package; Nikki Haley leaves board

Boeing and its airline customers are reeling from the coronavirus pandemic as travel demand collapse and carriers race to park hundreds of airplanes and put off delivery of new ones to shore up cash. 

The company said in a filing that Haley is against the company receiving government aid "as a matter of philosophical principle." 

"While I know cash is tight, that is equally true for numerous other industries and for millions of small businesses," Haley said in her resignation letter. "I cannot support a move to lean on the federal government for a stimulus or bailout that prioritizes our company over others and relies on taxpayers to guarantee our financial position. I have long held strong convictions that this is not the role of government."

She said because of that "the proper thing to do is to resign."

A former governor of South Carolina, Haley is considered a likely candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. She was nominated to Boeing's board by the company in February 2019. While serving as governor in 2015, Haley opposed efforts by Boeing's biggest union to form a bargaining unit at the company's factory in South Carolina, where it produces 787 Dreamliner planes.

Haley's resignation could help inoculate her from criticism in the 2024 GOP primary contest from those on the right and others who oppose government bailouts of private businesses.

The Tea Party movement that formed on the heels of President Barack Obama's election in 2008 was fueled in part by opposition to the Troubled Assets Relief Program that Obama's predecessor in the White House, George W. Bush, had signed into law. TARP authorized the purchase of toxic assets and stock shares from banks and other financial institutions to prevent them from failing during the Great Recession.

In 2014, when Haley was running for re-election, The Post and Courier newspaper noted that it had "identified at least nine deals where taxpayer-backed incentives, both from the state and local counties, were approved and announced by Haley's office but the companies appear to have sputtered afterward, according to local media reports."

How to stay financially sound during the coronavirus pandemic
How to stay financially sound during the coronavirus pandemic