Mike Huckabee announced his resignation from the Country Music Association (CMA) Foundation just a day after he was appointed to its board of directors.
The CMA Foundation is the charitable arm of the CMA, the trade organization based in Nashville that promotes country music.
Several country musicians and fans decried the former Arkansas governor’s position at the CMA Foundation’s board because of his history of anti-LGBT, sexist, and racist comments.
Jason Owen, the co-president of the Sony label Monument Records, has three kids with his husband Sam. He called the appointment of Huckabee a “grossly offensive decision.”
“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,” Owen wrote. “Not to mention how harmful and damaging his deep involvement with the NRA is. What a shameful choice.”
CMA member and country music manager Whitney Pastorek emailed CMA executives some sharp words about 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,” she 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.”
In his resignation letter, Huckabee did not say that he had anything to be ashamed of. Instead, he said he was resigning because being on the board was an “unnecessary distraction” for the CMA Foundation. He decried the “irrational vitriol” that his “religious or political views” inspired and called his critics “intolerant and vicious.”
“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,” he wrote, implying that country music fans are uniformly racist and homophobic.
CMA board member Joe Galante issued a statement about the controversy, citing Huckabee’s tenure as governor and his “policy experience.”
Huckabee has made so many anti-LGBT comments in his career that they can’t all be listed here. He summarized his position on marriage equality with “ick.” He has repeatedly compared homosexuality to alcoholism.
After his two failed presidential runs, Huckabee got involved in Kim Davis’s fight to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples, quoting Abraham Lincoln as he decried the “tyranny” of… Kim Davis being told to do her job.
He also waged a bizarre war against rainbow Doritos and the It Gets Better Project, calling it a “hate group.”
In the 90’s, Huckabee said that people with HIV/AIDS should be quarantined and decried the use of government money to fight the epidemic, calling it a “lifestyle disease.” He has been asked about those comments repeatedly since then, and he stands by them.
He also once used Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” at a rally for Kim Davis without paying the band royalties. Instead of cutting the musicians a check when they told him that they have a right to be paid, he took the case to court and argued that the rally was “religious” so he didn’t have to pay. He ended up settling for $25,000.
If nothing else, the CMA shouldn’t be promoting someone who doesn’t believe that musicians should be paid for their work.