Huckabee paying $25K for song at Kim Davis rally

Posted at 4:55 PM, Jun 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-27 17:18:06-04

Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas govenror who's twice failed to secure the Republican presidential nomination, is paying $25,000 for playing "Eye of the Tiger" at a rally for a Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Huckabee played the '80s megahit by Survivor in September when Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was released from jail. Davis walked on stage with husband Joe and Huckabee as the song played.

Survivor frontman Frankie Sullivan wrote on Facebook that Huckabee and Davis didn't have permission to use the song. And CNNMoney discovered Huckabee agreed to a confidential settlement with Rude Music, owned by Sullivan, and listed the $25,000 cost as a campaign expense on federal election records.

Huckabee argued in court that the rally for Davis was a "religious assembly... signifying joy and praise at the release of Mrs. Davis" from jail. Davis, a conservative Christian, was ordered behind bars after she defied a judge's order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples; in deciding to free her, U.S. District Judge David Bunning said he was satisfied that five of Davis' six deputies were issuing the licenses, but also warned Davis not to interfere. And Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has since removed county clerks' names from marriage licenses entirely, “to ensure the sincerely held religious beliefs of all Kentuckians are honored.”

While classifying the rally as religious event would allow Huckabee to play part of the song without paying, Sullivan's lawyer pointed out that Huckabee claimed the rally as a presidential campaign expense.

Huckabee has asked the Federal Election Commission to let him start a separate legal defense fund to pay off the settlement. But, in a draft opinion released last week, the agency said Huckabee should pay the costs himself.

Annette McGarry, Sullivan's attorney, said she couldn't comment on the settlement, but noted Mitt Romney stopped using the song in 2012 after being warned.