Miss America Board Of Directors Votes To Suspend Sam Haskell

(CBS News) — The Miss America Organization board of directors voted Friday to suspend executive chairman and CEO Sam Haskell, one day controversial internal emails were published. In the emails, published in the Huffington Post, Haskell mocked past winners’ looks, sex lives and weight.

The board of directors said it would be conducting an internal investigation into the emails. But the initial Huffington Post report said that the organization claimed it had already conducted an investigation over “allegations of inappropriate comments” in emails. As a result of that investigation, Lewis Friedman, the lead writer of the Miss America pageant telecast, had been let go from the organization.

Among the comments included in the report was a reference to former Miss America winners using a vulgar term for female genitalia that Haskell indicated he found to be amusing. Others included speculation about how many men one particular former Miss America had had sex with. That same former title holder, Mallory Hagan, also was ridiculed over a bathing suit photo in which she appeared to have gained weight since she competed in and won the pageant.

Haskell issued a statement Friday saying The Huffington Post report is “dishonest, deceptive and despicable” and based off emails that were “private emails that were stolen three years ago by ex-employees.”

“Those who know my heart know that this is not indicative of my character, nor is it indicative of my business acumen,” Haskell said. “I was under stress from a full year of attacks by two Miss Americas, and while I don’t ever want to offer an excuse, I do want to offer context …my mistake is a mistake of words.”

He said he would abide by the decision of the board.

The Miss America Organization said in a statement Thursday that Haskell, who earns $500,000 a year as CEO, had apologized to the board for his comments. The statement did not say if he had apologized to the women mentioned by name in the emails, or whether such an apology was conveyed to them.

Dick Clark Productions, which produces the nationally televised pageant broadcasts, told The Associated Press Thursday that it has cut ties with the pageant over the emails, calling them “appalling.”

Former Miss Americas, including Gretchen Carlson, on Friday called for Haskell and other Miss America organizers to resign.