1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

Mike Huckabee’s role in pushing controversial beach access law

Newly-released emails show an exchange between the former Arkansas governor and a key senator.
A beach sign in Destin [Scott Keeler - Times]
A beach sign in Destin [Scott Keeler - Times]
Published Sep. 10, 2018
Updated Sep. 10, 2018

TALLAHASSEE — The behind-the-scenes role of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in Florida's beach access furor is the subject of intense speculation among beachfront residents.

Gov. Rick Scott signed a law in 2018 that imposes new hurdles on Walton County in the Panhandle before it can continue so-called customary use of beaches. Scott later issued an executive order suspending state enforcement of the law he signed.

Huckabee, a former Republican presidential candidate and Fox News commentator, owns a beachfront home in Blue Mountain Beach, an upscale community in Walton. An ally of Rep. Matt Gaetz, Huckabee recently hosted a fund-raiser for the Panhandle congressman.

Huckabee is a man of strong opinions, and his view is clearer after an email exchange with Republican Sen. Kathleen Passidomo of Naples, sponsor of the Senate version of a beach access law (HB 631) that has stirred intense controversy. Scott skipped a planned campaign stop in Walton County on Sunday to avoid protesters who oppose his stand on the issue.

On Jan. 12, Huckabee wrote an email to Passidomo, thanking her for her sponsorship of a bill "involving the customary use abuse by Walton Co."

"I'm one of those beachfront owners whose title goes to mean high water line," he wrote. "Walton Co. taxes me on that property and I pay handsomely for it! I actually don't mind people who simply want to enjoy the beach and certainly not walk on or past. … What beachfront owners object to is illegal taking of taxed and titled property without compensation or even consideration. In fact, we are demonized as 'greedy, selfish and rich' owners who want to deprive the poor of their 'rights.'

Here's more of Huckabee's email to Passidomo.

In reply, Passidomo called customary use a "contentious issue" and said there has been a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about it.

"What happened in Walton County seems to me to be the county acting as prosecutor, judge and jury, all for the county's benefit," Passidomo wrote.

In response, Huckabee wrote back to Passidomo and said: "Either private property rights mean something or they don't. I'm genuinely thankful that you are fighting this battle."

Santa Rosa Beach attorney Daniel Uhlfelder, a leader of Florida Beaches for All, a local group that wants to preserve beach use, said Huckabee's view is wrong. "It's not a private property rights issue," Uhlfelder said. "It's about the use of beaches."


  1. 1 hour ago• Florida State Seminoles
    Florida State's Kiah Gillespie in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
  2. Connecticut's Jalen Gaffney (0) and South Florida's David Collins (0) battle for a loose ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020, in Storrs, Conn. (AP Photo/Stephen Dunn)
  3. Florida Gators guard Kiara Smith (1) during the first half of an NCAA basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)
  4. The Lightning signed defenseman Zach Bogosian, whose contract was terminated by Buffalo earlier this week.
  5. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Anthony Banda during the start of spring training in Port Charlotte, Florida on Thursday, February 13, 2020.
  6. Kacey Reynolds announces that LSU linebacker Devin White has been selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round at the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 25, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. The Bucs announced Sunday that Reynolds had died at age 20 after a three-year battle with Hodgkin lymphoma.
  7. Tampa Bay Vipers fans, from left, Allie Goodman, of Naples, Bill Downing, of New Port Richey, and Don "Skully" Bradshaw, of Land O' Lakes, visit outside Raymond James Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, while attending the Vipers' XFL home opener vs. the Houston Roughnecks in Tampa.
  8. Yoshi Tsutsugo of the Tampa Bay Rays gets his first career hit of spring training with the Tampa Bay Rays during a game against the New York Yankees at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, FL on February 23, 2020.
  9. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., participates in a panel during a campaign event for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, in Clive, Iowa. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
  10. A cyclist and vehicles negotiate heavily flooded streets as rain falls in Miami Beach. Florida is among the states most at risk from rising seas associated with a warming climate, and the Tampa Bay area is considered one of the most vulnerable in Florida. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) FLLS101
  11. Here, Mani Schafer, left, and Scott Stephen unload their moving truck after moving from New Mexico to the former St. Andrews Russian Orthodox Church, which they bought, in Childs Park in St. Petersburg in 2011.