May 13, 2011 -- National Journal: Announcing WH Run On Own Show Could Present Legal Issues For Huckabee
 By Alex Roarty
 

Here's one hint former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) will announce Saturday night he's not running for president: Declaring a presidential campaign on his own show could land he and News Corporation, Fox News' parent company, in legal hot water.

Using his show to declare he's seeking the GOP nomination for president could constitute an in-kind corporate contribution from News Corporation to Huckabee's candidacy, said Paul Ryan, an attorney for the Campaign Legal Center. Corporate contributions are illegal for both the company and candidate, he said.

"I think it would be wise for Mike Huckabee ... to refrain from doing it this way because it causes problems for both candidates and corporate owner," said Ryan.

Fox News made headlines earlier this year when it parted ways with contributors Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum because both men were close to becoming official presidential candidates. It retained Huckabee, whose show runs Saturday and Sunday night, and former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

It would certainly be legal for the former Arkansas governor to announce his decision if he were being interviewed on a Fox News show, said Ryan, because that falls under the media exemption for in-kind contributions. The difference in this case is Huckabee would be making the announcement on his own show, presumably where he retains full editorial control.

Complicating the legal picture is the fact that Huckabee's situation is rare—very few prospective presidential candidates have had their own TV shows. Ryan said he isn't aware of the situation ever occurring before.

"Candidates and their employers have for decades steered clear of these landmines," Ryan said.

Regardless, the potential legal fallout raises the question of why Huckabee and Fox would take the risk at all. Using his show to reveal his decision won't help him receive any additional media coverage - the former governor's announcement would have been heavily covered whatever the venue.

"It would be unwise in my view to push the boundaries here for what appears to be insubstantial gains," said Ryan. "You risk launching your campaign with a campaign finance scandal."

Fox News was not immediately available to comment.

 
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