Chair to current Miss America: I did not bully you
ATLANTIC CITY — Miss America Organization chair Gretchen Carlson denied allegations by current titleholder Cara Mund that she is being silenced and bullied, and said that by Mund taking her grievances public, she cost the pageant $75,000 in scholarships.
In a letter sent Friday to former Miss Americas three weeks before this year's event in Atlantic City, Cara Mund says she decided to speak out despite the risk of punishment and felt that her voice is not being heard by the organization's leadership.
"Our chair and CEO have systematically silenced me, reduced me, marginalized me, and essentially erased me in my role as Miss America in subtle and not-so-subtle ways on a daily basis. After a while, the patterns have clearly emerged, and the sheer accumulation of the disrespect, passive-aggressive behavior, belittlement, and outright exclusion has taken a serious toll," Mund's letter said.
Carlson posted a response to Mund on her Twitter account on Sunday night and said she was surprised Mund went public instead of calling her. Mund has since said she will only communicate via email, according to Carlson.
"Cara, let me be clear. We, as an organization, are very proud of you and all you have accomplished. You are smart, caring and ambitious. As a Brown graduate, you aspire to go to law school and one day run for governor in your home state of North Dakota. You embody the mission of Miss America," Carlson wrote.
"I also want to be clear that I have never bullied or silenced you," Carlson wrote.
Carlson acknowledged that the past year has been frustrating to Mund and her parents serving during a period of change to the organization.
"It surely what was not what you expected. We've acknowledged your grievances and taken many steps to try and make your experience a good one," Carlson wrote.
Carlson also wrote that by Mund going public she cost the organization $75,000 in scholarships and her allegations are causing a "ripple effect across the entire organization." She did not disclose where the additional money was coming from and why it was withdrawn.
Carlson's decision to scrap the swimsuit competition was met with mixed reaction with several state Miss America organzations, including New Jersey, calling for her to step down. They claim she did not communicate her intention to the state chapters.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.