Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan is leading a petition drive calling for the ouster of all Miss America Organization board members in the wake of an email scandal that led to the resignation of two staff members and two board members.
The remaining board members have said they will enlist the help of former Miss Americas to choose new leaders for the organization.
“They are throwing us a really insulting bone,” Hagan said. “For them to choose new leadership is unacceptable. They have demonstrated they don’t have the ability to lead the organization.”
Several former Miss Americas are simultaneously calling for the remaining board members to resign, and for Gretchen Carlson to be appointed interim chair of the board, Hagan said.
Carlson, a former Fox News journalist who won a $20 million sexual harassment settlement from Fox after suing News Chairman Roger Ailes, was Miss America 1989. She is also a former MAO board member.
Acting Board Chairman Dan Meyers did not respond to an email seeking comment Thursday.
The petition reads:
“In a continued exhibition of poor judgment, the current board of the Miss America Organization — which decided not to take action when appalling statements by Executive Chairman Sam Haskell were presented to them in September, and stood by Mr. Haskell while expressing ‘full confidence’ in his leadership — has now voted up a new process that they alone control. The majority of remaining board members plan to stay on, and expect to nominate and elect replacements for those who have resigned.
“While asserting that they want input from a variety of stakeholders, they will be the final decision makers regarding who is added to their ranks. This is unacceptable and will only further damage the org.
“The board needs to accept responsibility for the damage they have already caused, and step aside quickly to allow new leadership to save the Miss America program.”
By about 5:30 p.m. Thursday, more than 8,000 people had signed the petition, which had been up on change.org about a day. It had been sent to Miss America volunteers and others associated with the pageant at the national, state and local levels. It had also been widely shared on Twitter.
Haskell, President and COO Josh Randle, Board President Lynn Weidner and Board Vice President Tammy Haddad all resigned after emails came to light between Haskell and others that made fun of former Miss Americas, and in one case suggested they wished one would die.
In a series of tweets late Wednesday night, Carlson said the only way to save Miss America is for all board members to resign, since they had expressed full confidence in Haskell even after seeing the emails, and “have reportedly handed him a severance package.”
Meyers also did not respond to questions about a possible severance package.
Dick Clark Productions severed its ties with MAO because of the emails, and the future of the pageant is uncertain because of them.
Former Miss Americas have said they want the pageant to continue, and are willing to help rebuild it in a way that will fulfill its mission of providing scholarships to women and empowering them in all aspects of their lives.