Huckabee blames "bullies" after he quickly resigns from charity board

Republican's tenure on the board of the charitable foundation of the Country Music Association lasted just 24 hours


Shira Tarlo
March 2, 2018 11:26PM (UTC)

Another Republican closely affiliated with President Donald Trump makes an untimely exit. About 24 hours after the Country Music Association announced singer Chris Young and politician Mike Huckabee would join the board of its charitable foundation, the former GOP presidential candidate resigned in disgrace.

"The CMA Foundation has accepted former Governor Mike Huckabee's resignation from its board of directors, effective immediately," a CMA spokeswoman said in a statement on Thursday afternoon.

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The CMA came under fire for his appointment, and perhaps the strongest of those denunciations came from artist manager Jason Owen, who called Huckabee's appointment "grossly offensive" and "a detrimentally poor choice by CMA and its leaders." Owen's management company, Sandbox Entertainment, represents country music superstars such as Faith Hill, Kacey Musgraves and Little Big Town. He also co-owns the label Monument Records, a division of Sony Music, with celebrated singer-songwriter and music producer Shane McAnally.

"It is with a heavy heart that I must let you know moving forward, Sandbox and Monument will no longer support the CMA Foundation in any way (this includes everyone we represent collectively) considering the heartbreaking news shared today regarding Mike Huckabee appointee/elected to the CMA Foundation," he wrote in a letter to CMA CEO Sarah Trahern and Director of Community Outreach Tiffany Kerns. "Further, we find it hard to support the organization as a whole as a result."

Owen, who is openly gay, continued, "I have a child and two on the way. This man has made it clear that my family is not welcome in his America. And the CMA has opened their arms to him, making him feel welcome and relevant. Huckabee speaks of the sort of things that would suggest my family is morally beneath his and uses language that has profoundly negative impact upon young people all across this country. Not to mention how harmful and damaging his deep involvement with the NRA is. What a shameful choice. I will not participate in any organization that elevates people like this to positions that amplify their sick voices."

Huckabee, who is also the father of Trump's press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, compared same-sex marriage to incest and polygamy in 2010. Recently, he blasted businesses that cut ties with the National Rifle Association after the mass shooting in Parkland, FL, calling them "cowardly."

On Thursday, Huckabee published a letter addressed to the CMA Foundation Board on his website, in which he blamed "bullies" for his resignation. "I genuinely regret that some in the industry were so outraged by my appointment that they bullied the CMA and the foundation with economic threats and vowed to withhold support for the programs for students if I remained," he wrote.

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He also mentioned his support for music education – one of the core missions of the CMA Foundation. "The message here is 'hate wins.' Bullies succeed in making it untenable to have 'someone like me' involved. I would imagine however that many of the people who buy tickets and music are not that 'unlike me.'"

Huckabee's exit came a few hours after Owen shared his letter in Hits Daily Double, a music blog, that said, "There's great concern and protest over [Huckabee's] appointment, and rightfully so. Many in Nashville are sharing feelings of embarrassment for our country and industry."

Huckabee's interest in music might have initially made him seem like a good fit for the CMA board. Last year, Huckabee wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post titled, "A conservative plea for the National Endowment for the Arts." His website also says he is "an avid musician since age 11, is a bass player and often joins guest artists on his weekly television show." 


Shira Tarlo

Contact Shira Tarlo at shira.tarlo@salon.com. Follow @shiratarlo.

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