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Sam Haskell, CEO of the Miss America Organization, has submitted his resignation amid an unfolding scandal involving unearthed vulgar emails he sent about contestants. Chairman Lynn Weidner, who sent some of the emails included in the initial report, has also resigned.
The developments come one day after the Miss America Organization board of directors voted to suspend Haskell pending an investigation into disparaging internal emails about contestants. The Huffington Post first published the emails Thursday, showing Haskell commenting crudely on the appearances of women who had competed in the pageant to other members of the organization.
Josh Randle, president and COO, has also resigned, along with fellow member Tammy Haddad, HuffPost‘s Yashar Ali first reported on Saturday.
The board had announced it would be conducting an investigation into the alleged inappropriate communications, telling The Hollywood Reporter on Friday: “The Board wishes to reaffirm our commitment to the education and empowerment of young women, supporting them in every way possible.”
Dan Meyers, who has stepped in as interim chairman, confirmed Haskell’s resignation is effective immediately.
“This afternoon, the Board of Directors of the Miss America Organization accepted the resignation of Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sam Haskell, effective immediately,” he said in a statement. “The Board of Directors also accepted the resignation of Chairman Lynn Weidner. At the Board’s request, Ms. Weidner has agreed to remain on the Board for up to ninety days to facilitate a smooth transition for the MAO to new leadership.”
Adding, “The Board thanks Lynn and Sam for many years of tireless work for, and significant financial support to, both the Miss America Organization and thousands of young women who received millions of dollars of educational scholarships from the Organization as a direct result of their efforts.”
Randle will also stay on for a few weeks to hep the transition. “Earlier today, in light of recent events and new developments, the Miss America Organization’s Board of Directors received and accepted the resignation of President & COO Josh Randle,” said a spokesperson in a statement to THR. “At the Board’s request, Josh has agreed to remain in his current current capacity for several weeks to facilitate a smooth transition.”
1989 Miss America Gretchen Carlson, who reportedly clashed with Haskell and was one of many targets in the ousted CEO’s emails, released a statement on Twitter following the news.
“While it is reassuring that some of the perpetrators of the abuses within the Miss America Organization have resigned, this by no means fulfills the need for a thorough housecleaning of the Board,” she said, calling for more board members who were involved with the unfolding scandal to step forward and resign. “We will continue to demand the resignations of every individual who either participated in the abuse of women or stood by and was complicit by failing to conduct proper due diligence.”
She added, “This Board has lost the trust of the country. For the good of the organization, they must step away.”
— Gretchen Carlson (@GretchenCarlson) December 23, 2017
In the emails Haskell, who was formerly executive vp and head of TV at the William Morris Agency, jokes about renaming former Miss America winners “C—s” and calls the past winners a “pile of malcontent,” among other misogynistic and fat-shaming claims.
Haskell called the claims “unkind and untrue,” though he did not specify which belonged in the latter category. “Much of what was reported is dishonest, deceptive, and despicable. The material is based on private emails that were stolen three years ago by ex-employees,” he said in his statement.
Dick Clark Productions, which has a three-year deal with the Miss America Organization to produce the TV pageants, said the company was “appalled” by the content of the emails and that after being made aware of allegations of sexual misconduct in August 2017, terminated its relationship with the Miss America Organization. “Shortly thereafter, we resigned our board positions and notified MAO that we were terminating our relationship with them,” said the statement in part.
ABC airs the annual pageant, which takes place in Atlantic City and is hosted by Chris Harrison.
Dec. 23, 12 p.m.: Updated with Haskell’s resignation; MAO statement.
Dec. 23, 3:27 p.m.: Updated with Carlson’s statement.
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