Ousted Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan Sought $22 Million Exit Payout, Interim Boss Says (Report)

Academy had launched an investigation after Dugan accusations of improper voting and financial practices

Last Updated: January 23, 2020 @ 11:07 PM

The interim head of the Recording Academy told its membership that ousted president and CEO Deborah Dugan sought millions of dollars to step down from her role and withdraw the accusations she made against the Academy.

According to a memo obtained by Variety, interim boss Harvey Mason Jr. said that Dugan was placed on administrative leave last week after the Academy’s executive committee had received a letter from Dugan’s attorney saying she would agree to step down from her role as CEO and “withdraw” accusations she made against conduct within the Academy if she was paid out. Billboard added that Dugan asked for the sum of $22 million.

Sources told Variety Dugan’s accusations against the Academy included “voting irregularities, financial mismanagement, ‘exorbitant and unnecessary’ legal bills, and conflicts of interest involving members of the academy’s board, executive committee and outside lawyers.”

Mason said Dugan was also being independently investigated following accusations of misconduct made by a staff member. A letter from that staffer’s attorney alleged that Dugan created a “toxic and intolerable” and “abusive and bullying” environment toward her staff. Dugan then made her own accusations against the Academy, and a separate investigation into Dugan’s claims was launched.

“Following that communication from Ms. Dugan’s attorney, Ms. Dugan was placed on administrative leave as we complete both of these ongoing investigations,” Mason (pictured above with Dugan) wrote.

“I’m deeply disturbed and saddened by the ‘leaks’ and misinformation, which are fueling a press campaign designed to create leverage against the Academy for personal gain,” he added. “As GRAMMY week is upon us, I truly hope we can focus our attention on the artists who’ve received nominations and deserve to be celebrated at this time of the year, and not give credence to unsubstantiated attacks on the Academy. To do otherwise is just not right.”

A representative for the Recording Academy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Douglas Wigdor of Wigdor LLP confirmed to TheWrap that he represents Dugan and said he would provide comment on Dugan’s accusations against the Academy in the coming days. Another lawyer for Dugan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While the identity of the staffer who made the accusations against Dugan was not made public, on Sunday night Showbiz 411 reported that Claudine Little, an executive assistant to Dugan’s predecessor Neil Portnow, had retained former Harvey Weinstein and Charlie Walk attorney Patty Glaser to represent her. Showbiz 411 said that she was prepared to file a lawsuit against Dugan accusing her of causing “an untenable situation in the executive offices that included verbal abuse and mistreatment.”

Glaser did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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