Mike Huckabee Resigns From Country Music Board After Backlash to Social Views


Mike Huckabee / Getty Images
March 2, 2018

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R.) announced his resignation from the Country Music Association (CMA) Foundation board of directors on Thursday, only one day after his appointment, because of backlash generated in response to his social views.

The Tennessean first reported that the two-time presidential candidate's appointment drew the ire of prominent country music executive Jason Owen. The music executive's agency manages some of the genre's bestselling artists, such as Little Big Town, Kacey Musgraves, and Faith Hill. Owen, who is in a same-sex marriage, sent a letter to the foundation's top two executives where he castigated Huckabee's appointment. He argued Huckabee's views on LGBTQ rights were "hateful" and threatened to withhold financial support from the organization.

"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," Owen wrote.

The country music executive specifically stated that Huckabee's political stances had left him personally insulted, and he said it was a misguided decision by the foundation to make the political commentator and former governor feel "welcome and relevant."

"As you may know I have a child and two on the way," Owen said. "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."

Owen also claimed Huckabee "speaks the sort of things" that suggest same-sex couples are morally reprehensible and have a "profoundly negative impact upon young people."

Apart from Huckabee's views on social issues, Owen also took umbrage at the political commentator's stance in favor of the Second Amendment and said he could not take part in an organization willing to elevate people to positions where "their sick voices" could be amplified.

"Not to mention how harmful and damaging his deep involvement with the NRA is," Owen said. "I will not participate in any organization that elevates people like this to positions that amplify their sick voices."

The threats generated by Owen were strong enough for Huckabee to remove himself from the foundation's board of director's, lest his presence risk any detrimental harm to the organization.

In his letter of resignation, Huckabee said he was hurt by the mischaracterization of himself as hateful and "intolerant." He also opened up about the reasons for why he wanted to join the group in the first place.

"I have no expectation that it will change the irrational vitriol directed toward you or me for my religious or political views that necessitated my abrupt departure,"  Huckabee wrote. "I want you to know what you would never know by reading intolerant and vicious statements on the internet about who I am or what led me to want to be a part of your efforts to empower kids with the gift of music."

"Music changed my life," Huckabee added. "I was never good enough to make a full-time living at music, but the confidence I gained by playing, being in front of people, and competing against myself and the low expectations I grew up with was transformative."

The political commentator urged the country music industry to stand up and be more inclusive of individuals who express politically conservative points of view.

"If the industry doesn’t want people of faith or who hold conservative and traditional political views to buy tickets and music, they should be forthcoming and say it," Huckabee said.

Huckabee also cited the music industry's history of being above partisan politics and his hope that it would remain so.

"Until recently, the arts was the one place America could set aside political, geographical, racial, religious, and economic barriers and come together," Huckabee said.  "If the arts community becomes part of the polarization ... then we as a civilization may not be long for this earth."

UPDATE 3/9/2018: An earlier version of this story referred to Jason Owen as Jason Owens.