Huckabee Bolts From CMA Foundation Board After Less Than One Day

Mike Huckabee
Kiichiro Sato/AP Photo
– Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee may have served two terms as Arkansas governor, but lasted less than one day on the board of the CMA Foundation, submitting his resignation the day after his appointment was announced to a hail of criticism.

The organization announced the appointments of Huckabee and country artist Chris Young on Feb. 28.

The CMA Foundation is a charitable wing of the Country Music Association and, according to its website, has raised more than $20 million to organizations “enhancing the lives of students through the power of music,” specifically music education projects.

“The CMA Foundation has accepted former Governor Mike Huckabee’s resignation from its Board of Directors, effective immediately,” said Amber Williams, Vice President of CMA’s Communications & Talent Relations, according to the Tennessean.

Many found the choice puzzling at best, and offensive at worst, as the two-time Republican presidential candidate has called for, among other things, eliminating the U.S. Department of Education. “Education is a family function, not a federal one,” he tweeted in 2015.

Huckabee is also host of  a talk show on Trinity Broadcast Network whose daughter, Sarah, is the press secretary to President Donald Trump. He has long been outspoken in opposition to LGBTQ rights and other issues.

Among those critical of Huckabee’s appoint is Jason Owen, co-president of Monument Records and owner of Sandbox Entertainment, according to the Tennessean. In an email to CMA chief executive Sarah Trahern and CMA Foundation exec Tiffany Kerns, Owens called the pick a “grossly offensive decision” and said he, his companies, and clients they represent would halt support of the organization.

Owen and his husband Sam are fathers to a young son and are expecting twins, according to the paper. Owen said that Huckabee’s anti-LGBTQ stance “made it clear my family is not welcome in his America.”

“The CMA has opened their arms to him, making him feel welcome and relevant,” Owen wrote. “Huckabee speaks of the sort of things that would suggest my family is morally beneath his and uses language that has a 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.”

Whitney Pastorek, manager of Sugarland’s Kristian Bush who visited Dodson Elementary School in Hermitage last week with the CMA Foundation, also emailed CMA execs protesting the choice of Huckabee.

“What a terrible disappointment to see (the CMA Foundation’s) mission clouded by the decision to align with someone who so frequently engages in the language of racism, sexism, and bigotry,” Pastorek wrote. “While Gov. Huckabee’s tenure in Arkansas may have resulted in valuable education reform over a decade ago, I find his choice to spend the past ten years profiting off messages of exclusion and hatred (not to mention the gun lobby) to be disqualifying.”

CMA Board member Joe Galante explained in a statement to the Tennessean that Huckabee’s extensive political background was thought to be a potential asset to the CMA Foundation.

“Governor Huckabee led an impressive administration while serving the state of Arkansas and his policy experience with education reform is something we are fortunate to be able to learn from,” Galante said in the statement.