Two Democrats on the Federal Election Commission (FEC) voted to investigate former GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee for a political joke he made while on the campaign trail.
While he was campaigning for president last year, he made this statement, which included a political joke:
“I will be funded and fueled not by the billionaires, but by working people across America who will find out that $15 and $25 a month contributions can take us from Hope to higher ground. Now, rest assured, if you want to give a million dollars, please do it, but I know most of you can’t.”
In case you didn’t catch the joke, it was his statement that if his supporters wanted to “give a million dollars, please do it.” If you recall, the maximum an individual can contribute to a political candidate or his committee is $2,700. Here’s video of his May 2015 presidential candidacy announcement. For the criminal political joke, skip ahead to 28:50:
While it’s obvious that it was joke – and Huckabee himself had told the FEC later that it was joke – two Democrats who sit on the FEC didn’t think it was funny. Commissioners Ann Ravel and Ellen Weintraub took it to mean that Huckabee was deliberately soliciting high-dollar donations that exceeded way beyond the maximum allowable amount.
And no, this isn’t a joke either.
“Huckabee expressly dismissed the idea that members of his audience would provide large contributions and instead encouraged his listeners to consider contributing $15 or $25 a month. Huckabee then visibly altered his facial expression and tone and added that, “[i]f you want to give a million dollars, please do it.” Indeed, while making the aside, his demeanor changed in a way that further would have reasonably evidenced to his audience that his remarks were not serious or intended to be taken literally — he closes his eyes, pauses, shrugs, and smiles — and many in the audience laughed.
“Consequently, given the context in which Huckabee made his statement, a reasonable person would have believed that Huckabee was not in earnest when he stated that “[i]f you want to give a million dollars, please to it.”
Penalties for FEC violations can include fines and even imprisonment for more willful and egregious crimes.
H/T: Washington Examiner