The state Republican Party is blasting ABC saying the network forced reality star Ben Higgens to drop out of a Colorado state legislative race. Higgens announced his candidacy for a Colorado House seat but withdrew his name 24 hours later. Bente Birkeland has more.
“Despite my best efforts to pursue this opportunity in good faith, I recently received information that has made such a pursuit unworkable,” said Ben Higgens on his campaign website. “Due to circumstances beyond my control, I will not be able to move forward as a candidate. I find solace in knowing that our intentions and actions have been fair and sincere.”
The north Denver seat is now vulnerable because the current officeholder, Democratic Representative Dan Pabon was arrested for a DUI, and a video surfaced showing Pabon trying to use his elected position to get out of it.
“I believe personally that Bachelor Ben, if he were running for a seat as a Democrat, he would not have this problem,” said Colorado GOP Chairman Steve House. “I think ABC Disney is a very liberal media organization.”
Higgens rose to fame as the star of the ABC franchise the Bachelor, he and his fiancée Lauren will star in their own reality show this fall on Freeform, a subsidiary of the Disney–ABC Television Group. Freeform did not feel comfortable with Higgens running for office while filming the reality show, but said the decision was not politically motivated.
“These assertions are categorically and patently untrue,” said a statement issued by a Freeform spokesperson. “Freeform simply shared with Mr. Higgins its concern that broadcasting and promoting a show featuring a campaign for Colorado state office could raise significant compliance issues under Colorado election laws.”
The show could have been classified as electioneering communications and the advertising could have been an in kind contribution from the network to his campaign, but that is illegal according to an election law expert. In the end Freeform said the legal risk was too great, and bachelor Ben dropped the campaign to stick with the reality show “Happily Ever After”. He said he would move forward to find new ways to bring positive change to his community.