Fired Grammys CEO Deborah Dugan files complaint alleging nomination tampering

Deborah Dugan is fighting back after being fired by the Recording Academy with a new court filing alleging a higher-up attempted to influence Grammy nominations.

Attorneys for the former Grammys CEO, who was officially canned on Monday after being placed on administrative leave in January, filed court papers citing new allegations, some of which involve former Grammy Awards executive producer Ken Ehrlich.

According to the papers obtained by Variety, Dugan’s filing makes mention of an email written by Ehrlich on Oct. 24, 2019, where he and a “Mr. Mason” attempted to use their positions to influence nomination votes.

“Specifically, Mr. Ehrlich attempted to press the Academy into nominating a song by a particular superstar in order to increase his ability to convince the superstar to perform at the Grammys,” the filing states.

According to the outlet, Ehrlich wrote in the email: “looking at the [American Music Awards] nominations this morning, it’s more about who’s NOT there than who is…and [superstar] is definitely not gonna be happy. minor representation at best…sooo.”

It continues (via Variety): “I think there’s a case to be made to [superstar] that a performance of [song] from [album] on our show, should it be nominated…and that a blowout performance of that song, which IS a Grammy song, might…So there should be some discussion in a certain room at your meetings next week for Record, Album and Song, and if it involves making a choice between [one album] vs. [a second album], my thought from knowing [superstar] since [superstar] was a child, is that [superstar] might see the wisdom of a performance [of a song from the second album]…I’m just sayin’.”

Mason allegedly responded, “Gotcha. Thanks Ken,” according to Variety.

Dugan also alleges in her complaint that the academy has “subjected her to repeated, ongoing and egregious retaliation” including a lawsuit filed by Proskauer Rose who made “outrageous, false and frivolous allegations.”

Another email contained in Dugan’s new complaint involves a board member of the academy asking for a change to the “Nomination Review.” The member appears to claim that artists are still a part of the selecting committee even if they are up for their own awards.

“At the moment they can basically pick their nominees. I don’t feel comfortable with how they are being used,” the email states, according to the outlet.

In another email, a person at the academy claims (via Variety): “In the Best Jazz Vocal category I know for a fact that artists who have recordings up for awards in a given year, are still a part of the selecting committee for that year. I understand these folks must excuse themselves and leave the room when their recordings are up for voting, but minutes later they are back in the room with the same folks.”

Dugan’s firing came after she claimed she was sexually harassed by the organization’s top attorney. She also called into question the integrity of the Grammy nominations and accused former Neil Portnow of raping a female artist. Portnow previously claimed he was exonerated after a third-party investigation.

Reps for Ehrlich and the Recording Academy did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. However, the Academy told the Associated Press earlier this week that its decision to fire Dugan came after “two exhaustive, costly independent investigations.” It said the reviews found  “consistent management deficiencies and failures,” though no specifics were offered.

Dugan previously spoke out about her firing this week in a statement to Fox News claiming she was not interviewed during the investigations.

“I was recruited and hired by the Recording Academy to make positive change; unfortunately, I was not able to do that as its CEO. While I am disappointed by this latest development, I am not surprised given the Academy’s pattern of dealing with whistleblowers,” read Dugan’s statement. “Is anyone surprised that its purported investigations did not include interviewing me or addressing the greater claims of conflicts of interest and voting irregularities?”

She continued: “So, instead of trying to reform the corrupt institution from within, I will continue to work to hold accountable those who continue to self-deal, taint the Grammy voting process and discriminate against women and people of color. Artists deserve better. To me, this is the real meaning of ‘stepping up.’”

Fox News’ Nate Day contributed to this report.

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