Mike Huckabee resigns from country music board, citing political and religious intolerance

An apparently frustrated Mike Huckabee resigned from the board of the Country Music Association Foundation after just one day Thursday, saying the music industry is intolerant to those with conservative, religious beliefs.

On Wednesday, the former Arkansas governor and GOP presidential candidate was announced as a new board member of the charitable arm of the group that runs the annual CMA Awards and CMA Festival.

But prominent music industry leaders swiftly criticized Huckabee's appointment, including some who singled out his support for gun rights and traditional family values.


In his resignation letter to the CMA Foundation, Huckabee called his critics bullies, but said he was resigning to end an "unnecessary distraction" for the foundation.

"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 wrote. "Surely neither the artists or the business people of the industry want that."

Huckabee also sounded a note of defiance on Twitter on Thursday night.

"Got home from 28 hour trip from Taipei that lasted longer than my time on CMA Foundation board," he wrote, adding that "bullies" care more about themselves than "kids needing music."

The 51st Annual CMA Awards, held in November, included numerous jabs at President Donald Trump.

At one point in the show, Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood sang, “It’s fun to watch it that’s for sure, till little ‘Rocket Man’ starts a nuclear war. Maybe next time he’ll think before he tweets.”

"I hope that the music and entertainment industry will become more tolerant and inclusive ..."

— Mike Huckabee

One of the fiercest critics of Huckabee's appointment was Jason Owen, who leads Sandbox Management, representing artists like Little Big Town, Faith Hill and Kacey Musgraves.

Owen and his husband have one child and are expecting more, but Owen said that Huckabee has made it clear that his family is not welcome.

"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."

He said his clients would no longer support the foundation.

In announcing his resignation, Huckabee said the music industry should focus on art, not politics.

"I hope that the music and entertainment industry will become more tolerant and inclusive and recognize that a true love for kids having access to the arts is more important than a dislike for someone or a group of people because of who they are or what they believe," Huckabee wrote.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.