Miss America: Leadership bullied, manipulated, silenced me

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — The reigning Miss America says she has been bullied, manipulated and silenced by the pageant's current leadership, including Gretchen Carlson.

In a letter sent Friday to former Miss Americas, Cara Mund says she decided to speak out despite the risk of punishment.

Her letter is reminiscent of the movie "Mean Girls," in which characters Gretchen and Regina bully the heroine and make her life miserable. That's what happened to her in real life, Mund wrote. Gretchen Carlson is chairwoman of the Miss America Organization; Regina Hopper is its CEO.

Her letter exponentially increased the turmoil surrounding the pageant three weeks before the next Miss America is to be crowned in Atlantic City.

"Let me be blunt: I strongly believe that my voice is not heard nor wanted by our current leadership; nor do they have any interest in knowing who I am and how my experiences relate to positioning the organization for the future," Mund wrote. "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."

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Miss America 2018
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Miss America 2018
Miss North Dakota Cara Mund reacts after being announced as the winner of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey U.S. September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Contestants await the results after competing in the swimsuit component of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S., September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela
Miss North Dakota Cara Mund competes in the talent component of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S., September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela
Miss Pennsylvania Katie Scheckengast advances from the swimsuit component of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S., September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela
Miss Georgia Alyssa Beasley advances from the swimsuit component of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S., September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela
Contestants await the results after competing in the swimsuit component of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S., September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela
Miss Alabama Jessica Procter advances from the swimsuit component of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S., September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela
Miss New Jersey Kaitlyn Schoeffel competes in the swimsuit competition of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S., September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela
Miss South Carolina Suzi Roberts competes in the swimsuit competition of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S., September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela
Miss Alaska Angelina Klapperich competes in the swimsuit competition of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S., September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela
Miss Pennsylvania Katie Scheckengast competes in the swimsuit competition of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey U.S. September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela
Miss Missouri Jennifer Davis competes in the swimsuit competition of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S., September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela
Miss Louisiana Laryssa Bonacquisti competes in the swimsuit competition of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey U.S. September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela
Miss North Dakota Cara Mund competes in the talent component of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S., September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela
Miss Virginia Cecili Weber competes in the talent component of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S., September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela
Miss Louisiana Laryssa Bonacquisti competes in the talent component of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S., September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela
Miss North Dakota Cara Mund competes in the evening gown component of the Miss America competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela
(L) Miss North Dakota Cara Mund reacts after being announced as the winner of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey U.S. September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Contestants compete in the Miss America competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela
Miss District of Columbia Briana Kinsey competes in the talent component of the Miss America competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela
(R) Miss North Dakota Cara Mund reacts after being announced as the winner of the 97th Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey U.S. September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela
Fellow contestants await to congratulate Miss North Dakota Cara Mund who won the Miss America competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela
Miss North Dakota Cara Mund reacts after being announced as the winner of the Miss America competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela
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Mund said she's been left out of interviews, not invited to meetings and called the wrong name. When she obliquely hinted at trouble with pageant leadership in an interview earlier this month with The Press of Atlantic City, Mund said she was swiftly punished by having her televised farewell speech cut to 30 seconds, and was told a dress she had been approved to wear in the traditional "show us your shoes" parade cannot be worn.

This year's competition will not include swimsuits, and pageant officials from at least 19 states have called for the current leadership to resign.

There was no immediate response from The Miss America Organization or from Carlson and CEO Regina Hopper, who were singled out in Mund's letter.

Mund said she was given three talking points to be made in every appearance: "Miss America is relevant. The #MeToo movement started with a Miss America, Gretchen Carlson. Gretchen Carlson went to Stanford." (Mund said she was allowed to mention that she went to Brown to show that both women were highly educated.)

"Right away, the new leadership delivered an important message: There will be only one Miss America at a time, and she isn't me," Mund wrote.

Mund, who was Miss North Dakota and won the crown on a platform of increasing the number of women elected to political office, said she was treated better by the previous Miss America leadership that was forced from power after sending emails ridiculing the appearance, intellect and sex lives of former Miss Americas.

She cites examples of mistreatment including being excluded from the nationally televised announcement that swimsuits were being eliminated — even though she was with Carlson at the TV studio where it was made. She says pageant handlers ridiculed her clothing choices and chided her for wearing the same outfits too often. When she reached out to former Miss Americas to see if they had been treated similarly, "I was reprimanded by Regina who told me that problems and concerns had to be kept 'in the family.' "

31 PHOTOS
Gretchen Carlson through the years
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Gretchen Carlson through the years

Gretchen Carlson

(Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Miss America At Spireclub -- Miss America Gretchen Elizabeth Carlson plays Billiars In one of the rooms in the new club which offer many activities. With her showing how to shoot, is James. Stewart, Marketing agent for Pire club. September 15, 1988.

(Photo by Michael Schwartz/New York Post Archives/(c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)

Debbye Turner, Miss America 1990, Ericka Dunlap, Miss America 2004, and Gretchen Carlson, Miss America 1989

(Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)

Gretchen Carlson attends private screening: 'Memoirs of a Geisha' at Sony Screening Room on November 22, 2005 in New York City.

(Photo by Scott Rudd/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

John Voight, left, visits with anchors of 'Fox & Friends' Steve Doocy and Gretchen Carlson.

(Photo by Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

John Edward, Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson and Brian Kilmeade visit 'FOX & Friends' at the FOX Studios on October 5, 2010 in New York City.

(Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

Miss America 1989 and Fox News Channel co-host Gretchen Carlson is introduced at the 2010 Miss America Pageant at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino January 30, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Planet Hollywood)

Demi Lovato, Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson and Clayton Morris visit 'FOX & Friends' at the FOX studios on August 18, 2010 in New York City.

(Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

Ali Landry (C) poses for a photo with 'FOX & Friends' Co-hosts Gretchen Carlson and Steve Doocy outside the FOX studios on September 9, 2010 in New York City.

(Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)

Elmo and host Gretchen Carlson visits 'FOX & Friends' at the FOX Studios on November 18, 2010 in New York City.

(Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

'Fox & Friends' co-anchor Gretchen Carlson and Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan attend 'Fox & Friends' at FOX Studios on January 17, 2011 in New York City.

(Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

Miss America 1989 and Fox News Channel co-host Gretchen Carlson introduces pageant judges during the 2011 Miss America Pageant at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino January 15, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Cookbook authors brothers Jamie and Bobby Deen visit FOX & Friends and talk to host Gretchen Carlson, at FOX & Friends at FOX Studios on April 20, 2011 in New York City.

(Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

Host Steve Doocy, vocalist Brad Arnold of 3 Doors Down and host Gretchen Carlson pose for photos during a taping of 'FOX and Friends' outside of FOX Studios on July 29, 2011 in New York City.

(Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/WireImage)

'FOX & Friends' hosts Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson and Brian Kilmeade greet the crowd during a taping of 'FOX & Friends' at FOX Studios on July 15, 2011 in New York City.

(Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

Cookbook authors brothers Jamie and Bobby Deen visit FOX & Friends and talk to host Gretchen Carlson, at FOX & Friends at FOX Studios on April 20, 2011 in New York City.

(Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

Host Gretchen Carlson and Craig Morgan speak during 'FOX & Friends' All American Concert Series at FOX Studios on July 13, 2012 in New York City.

(Photo by Charles Norfleet/FilmMagic)

Gretchen Carlson is the guest co-hoston 'The View.'

(Photo by Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images) 

Professional tennis double players and 2012 olympic gold medalists, Mike Bryan and Bob Bryan chat and play table tennis with 'FOX & Friends' hosts Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson and Brian Kilmeade live on 'FOX & Friends' at FOX Studios on August 23, 2012 in New York City.

(Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

Fox & Friends hosts Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson and Brian Kilmeade during 'FOX & Friends' All American Concert Series outside of FOX Studios on July 19, 2013 in New York City.

(Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson, Brian Kilmeade, John Lynch and The cast of 'Duck Dynasty' Si Robertson, Jep Robertson and Willie Robertson visit 'Fox And Friends' at Fox News Studios on September 9, 2013 in New York City.

(Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images)

Fox News Channel Host Gretchen Carlson speaks onstage during a 'Fireside Chat on Persecuted' panel at Variety's Purpose: The Family Entertainment and Faith-Based Summit in association with Rogers And Cowan at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on June 12, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California.

(Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Variety)

Journalist Gretchen Carlson attends 'Persecuted' screening at Lighthouse International Theater on July 18, 2014 in New York City.

(Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)

Fox News Channel Host Gretchen Carlson speaks onstage during a 'Fireside Chat on Persecuted' at Variety's Purpose: The Family Entertainment and Faith-Based Summit in association with Rogers And Cowan at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on June 12, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California.

(Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Variety)

THE VIEW

Mindy Kaling and Gretchen Carlson were the guests, Wednesday, June 17, 2015 on ABC's 'The View.' '

(Photo by Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images)

Miss America 1989 Gretchen Carlson attends the 2016 Miss America Competition at Boardwalk Hall Arena on September 13, 2015 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for dcp)

Gretchen Carlson, Debra Shriver and Danielle Weisberg attend Hearst Chief Content Officer Joanna Coles Hosts the Hearst 100 Luncheon at Michael's on December 12, 2016 in New York City.

(Photo by Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Gretchen Carlson arrives for the Hearst 100 Luncheon at Michael's on December 12, 2016 in New York City.

(Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)

Gretchen Carlson attends Women at the Top: Female Empowerment in Media Panel at the 2016 Greenwich International Film Festival on June 12, 2016 in Greenwich, Connecticut.

(Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for GIFF)

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 03: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) TV commentator/author Gretchen Carlson visits Insight at SiriusXM Studios on April 3, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 08: (L-R) Editor-in-Chief of New York Magazine Adam Moss, Editor-in-Chief of Good Housekeeping Jane Francisco, News anchor Gretchen Carlson, Editor-in-Chief of Glamour Cindi Leive, Editor-in-Chief of the Meredith Parents Network Liz Vaccariello, and Editor-in-Chief of People Magazine Jess Cagle attend the American Magazine Media Conference 2017 on February 8, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for American Magazine Media Conference)
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