NEWS: Mike Huckabee Resigns From Country Music Association Board as Nashville Firestorm Ignites
Almost as quickly as he was appointed, conservative radio host Mike Huckabee has resigned from the board of the CMA Foundation, an educational arm of the Country Music Association. “The CMA Foundation has accepted former Governor Mike Huckabee’s resignation from its Board of Directors, effective immediately,” the CMA said in a statement late Thursday afternoon, just a day after revealing that Huckabee had joined the board, an announcement that immediately set off a firestorm in the country music community.
The CMA had obviously seen Huckabee’s appointment as apolitical, since the former Arkansas governor had long been a champion of putting the arts in schools, which is the CMA Foundation’s mission. But not everyone thought it was possible to view Huckabee’s philanthropic efforts as separate from his extremely conservative politics. “Basically, every gay man in town is furious,” said one artist manager, before the resignation was announced.
The writing appeared to be on the wall for Huckabee’s day-long tenure after one of the most influential managers in Nashville, Jason Owen, wrote a letter to the CMA announcing that his artists would no longer work on Foundation efforts. Owen even suggested that cooperation with the entire CMA was in question. Owen’s clients include Little Big Town, whose Kimberly Fairchild sits on the Foundation board, and was seen as likely to resign if Owen intended to carry out his words. Owen also represents Kacey Musgraves, whose gay-friendly “Follow Your Arrow” politics might be seen as not exactly aligning with Huckabee’s.
Owen’s letter to the CMAs’ CEO, Sarah Trahern, and director of community outreach, Tiffany Kerns, read: “It is with a heavy heart that I must let you know moving forward, Sandbox [his management firm] and Monument [Sandbox’s Sony-distributed label] 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. Further, we find it hard to support the organization as a whole as a result. As you may know 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 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.
“I will not participate in any organization that elevates people like this to positions that amplify their sick voices,” Owen’s letter continued. “This was a detrimentally poor choice by the CMA and its leaders. I only wish the best for you and I know how hard you work for the foundation but a grossly offensive decision like this only makes your job harder and diminishes the foundation’s purpose.”
By Chris Willman