The former head of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority said Sam Haskell made the right decision to resign Saturday as CEO of the Miss America Organization after vulgar emails disparaging former contestants surfaced.
Now, John Palmieri is urging Haskell “to own your comments, not make excuses, apologize to the women you have hurt, and move on.”
Palmieri was executive director of the CRDA from 2011 to 2016, when it approved a multimillion-dollar subsidy to keep the Miss America Competition in Atlantic City. In an email to Haskell, sent Sunday and obtained by The Press of Atlantic City, Palmieri said the CRDA “would be well served by severing the funding agreement and finding better ways to invest in community building activities.”
“My concern is that the misogyny and degrading remarks exposed by press and media outlets reflect horribly on the MAO and have done irreparable harm to the Miss America brand,” Palmieri said in the email.
A story published Thursday by the Huffington Post exposed emails showing Haskell and other officials shamed former contestants, using vulgar and lewd language and criticizing their appearance, intelligence and sex lives.
State lawmakers have called on the CRDA to pull a $4 million state subsidy from the Miss America Organization. Christopher Howard, the CRDA’s current executive director, said in a statement Friday it will do an “immediate review” of its contract to determine the next steps.
In addition to Haskell, Josh Randle, the Miss America Organization’s president and chief operating officer, and Lynn Weidner, chairwoman of the Board of Directors, resigned Saturday.
Randle already has done some apologizing. He said he called Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan on Saturday to tell her he was sorry for his inappropriate response to an email about her weight, saying the comment didn’t reflect his values or the organization.