Activists Allege Huckabee Endorsement Was for Sale; HuckPAC Denies

Mike Huckabee offered his endorsement to Bill McCollum on Sunday in the Florida gubernatorial race, and two Florida activists are alleging that Huckabee shopped his endorsement to McCollum and primary rival Rick Scott in return for cash--an allegation Huckabee's PAC denies.

Orlando political activist Nick Egoroff cited an anonymous Scott campaign source in a blog post on Sunday:

I have spoken with a reliable source telling me that a little over a week ago, Mike Huckabee approached the Rick Scott campaign and made overtures that his endorsement could be had for $250,000 dollars.

Another conservative Florida activist cites another anonymous source.

HuckPAC Executive Director Hogan Gidley has forcefully denied this, telling Florida news site Sunshine State News:

"Let me be perfectly clear, Governor Mike Huckabee has never had a conversation with Rick Scott or anyone on his staff about such matters," said Hogan Gidley of HuckPAC. "In fact, at the time the Scott campaign claims this was being discussed, Governor Huckabee had already early voted for Bill McCollum.

Gidley e-mailed another denial to Politico's Ben Smith.

This allegation doesn't make a whole lot of sense at first glance. Usually someone like Huckabee would endorse someone like McCollum to curry a returned favor two years later. If Huckabee runs for president, an endorsement from the governor of Florida would help.

Paying $250,000 for Huckabee's endorsement (or recruiting an ally to do so) seems like an odd move for McCollum. Huckabee only received 14% of the vote in Florida's 2008 Republican presidential primary, and, while he's popular in the South, Huckabee doesn't have a robust political operation in the state, to my knowledge. If this were Iowa, things would be different.

The theory on the cash-for-endorsement scheme goes something like: McCollum has enough money that he doesn't need $250,000, he's panicked that Scott will beat him (Public Policy Polling shows Scott up seven percentage points; Mason-Dixon shows McCollum up nine), and Huckabee's endorsement is more valuable because of his Fox News platform. McCollum has been receiving matching campaign funds from the state of Florida and is said (though I haven't confirmed this) to have a substantial statewide media buy.

I'm not sure I buy all that, but stranger things have happened.