May 26 — The Federal Election Commission has concluded Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was only kidding when he said last May during the announcement of his candidacy: “If you want to give a million dollars, please do it.”
The six FEC commissioners voted unanimously to follow staff recommendations and find “no reason to believe” Hucakbee violated campaign finance laws, according to documents released by the FEC May 25.
A complaint against the former Arkansas governor was filed by the liberal nonprofit American Democracy Legal Fund. It charged that Huckabee's comment was intended to raise money for a super political action committee supporting his candidacy, called Pursuing America's Greatness.
Campaign finance laws bar federal candidates from soliciting contributions larger than the FEC's “hard money” contribution limits. The limit for an individual contribution to a candidate currently is set at $2,700 per election.
Huckabee dropped out of the Republican presidential primary campaign in February after a disappointing finish in the Iowa caucuses. His campaign committee raised and spent a total of about $4.3 million, while the super PAC supporting him raised and spent nearly $5 million.
The super PAC's biggest contributor was Ronald Cameron, chief executive of the chicken processing company Mountaire Corp., who gave $3 million.
An FEC general counsel's report analyzing the Huckabee enforcement case—designated Matter Under Review (MUR) 6939—noted that an attorney for Huckabee asserted the former governor's statement about giving $1 million “was a joke, not an actual solicitation of a million-dollar contribution.”
The response of behalf of Huckabee from attorney Douglas Chalmers of the firm Chalmers Pak Burch & Adams quoted President Franklin D. Roosevelt as observing that “the saving grace of America lies in the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans are possessed of two great qualities—a sense of humor and a sense of proportion.” While the complainants against Huckabee have neither, Chalmers said, the FEC was obligated to view their allegations reasonably and in context.
Chalmers explained that, during his presidential announcement speech, Huckabee said his campaign would not be funded by wealthy individuals, but by Americans who live modestly and could afford contributions of $15 or $25 per month.
“Looking down then at his lifelong friends,” Chalmers added, “and with a big smile, [Huckabee] then jokingly added, ‘now, rest assured, if you want to give a million dollars, please do it.' ”
The FEC counsel's report concluded: “Although Huckabee's remarks literally called for a listener to make a contribution in an amount outside of the limits of the Federal Election Campaign Act …, taken in context, we conclude that Huckabee made his remark in jest and that an objectively reasonable observer would have understood as much.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Kenneth P. Doyle in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Heather Rothman at firstname.lastname@example.org
Documents in closed FEC enforcement cases are available online at http://eqs.fec.gov/eqs/searcheqs.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)