ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — A former board member and four states that have had their licenses terminated by the Miss America Organization are suing the group and its top leaders, claiming “an illegal and bad-faith takeover” of the pageant.

A lawsuit filed Wednesday in Atlantic City by Jennifer Vaden Barth and pageant organizations from Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia and Georgia asks a judge to void the actions of Chairwoman Gretchen Carlson and CEO Regina Hopper.

The lawsuit also seeks restoration of the situation that existed before the two assumed control of the Miss America Organization.

The organization called the lawsuit meritless, and part of “a year-long orchestrated smear campaign.”

Numerous state organizations have been battling pageant leadership, citing dissatisfaction with the way the group is being run and with how a decision to eliminate the swimsuit competition from this year’s pageant was reached.

“This is the first step in restoring the integrity and credibility of Miss America, which has been a cultural icon since 1921,” said Barth, a former Miss North Carolina and former Miss America board member.


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