Miss America Organization CEO Sam Haskell resigns amid email scandal

Sam Haskell resigned after leaked emails showed him demeaning former winners.

ByABC News
December 23, 2017, 4:55 PM

— -- Miss America Organization CEO Sam Haskell resigned Saturday, two days after leaked internal emails surfaced showing him and others demeaning the appearance, intellect and personal lives of former pageant winners.

Dan Meyers, interim chairman of the Miss America Organization's board of directors, confirmed in a statement via Twitter that the board on Saturday afternoon accepted Haskell's resignation, "effective immediately." The board also accepted the resignation of chairman Lynn Weidner, who Meyers said will remain on the board for up to 90 days "to facilitate a smooth transition."

"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," Meyers said in the statement.

A Miss America Organization spokesman confirmed to ABC News that the board also received and accepted the resignation of the president, Josh Randle, earlier Saturday. Randle will remain in his current capacity for several weeks at the board's request to facilitate a smooth transition, the spokesman said.

Haskell's resignation came one day after the Miss American Organization suspended him indefinitely while the board conducted "an in-depth investigation into alleged inappropriate communications and the nature in which they were obtained."

Haskell said in a statement Friday that he would abide by the suspension, but denounced the Huffington Post article that revealed the internal emails as "unkind and untrue."

"My mistake is a mistake of words," Haskell wrote in a statement issued Friday night, obtained by The Associated Press. "Much of what was reported is dishonest, deceptive, and despicable.

"The story is so unkind and untrue, and hurts me, my family, and the stewardship of this nonprofit," he wrote. "Those who know my heart know that this is not indicative of my character, nor is it indicative of my business acumen."

On Saturday, Randle said in a statement obtained by ABC News that his inappropriate response to an email about the appearance of 2013 Miss America Mallory Hagan came several months before he worked at the Atlantic City-based organization. The outgoing president apologized to Hagan nonetheless, saying in the statement that the comment does not reflect his values or those of the Miss America Organization.

He said, however, the Huffington Post article "implies alleged complicit participation on my part in a years-long array of inappropriate email communication, which is grossly misleading. Furthermore, the most egregious emails were exchanged in 2013 and 2014 and pre-date my employment altogether."

ABC News' Matthew Stone and Jason Volack contributed to this report.