RAB Defends Itself Against Hoax E-mail

Blames 'Malicious' Sacked Employee for Memo 'From' CEO

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- An e-mail purporting to have been sent by Jeff Haley, CEO of the Radio Advertising Bureau, the industry association, hit the inboxes of RAB employees and dozens of media reporters late this afternoon, announcing the firing of three senior-level male employees and accusing the organization of being "blatantly sexist."

Jeff Haley
Jeff Haley
In an interview and later an official statement, Mr. Haley categorically denied writing any part of or distributing the e-mail, which tried to pass itself off as an internal memo announcing the layoffs of Mike Mahone, exec VP-services; George Hyde, exec VP-training; and Dave Casper, senior VP-internet services. The supposed memo claimed the three employees' salaries totaled $724,000 and noted: "In these difficult times, I cannot continue to justify paying a total of nearly three-quarters of a million dollars to just three individuals, particularly when those individuals have added so little value to this organization."

The e-mail was distributed at 5:03 p.m. EST, about two hours after the RAB laid off five of its 55 employees. Mr. Haley said the e-mail must have been from one of those made redundant.

The statement from the RAB read: "In a malicious attempt to damage the organization, someone accessed the email account of RAB President Jeff Haley, generated a false memorandum filled with factually inaccurate and malicious accusations designed to embarrass and damage the Radio Advertising Bureau. This fraudulent memorandum was then widely distributed to employees, business associates and members of the news media."

Renee Cassis, who was one of those made redundant from her post as the RAB's VP-corporate marketing, said: "He might have just laid me off three hours ago, but I can tell you I've worked with him long enough to know he would not send that out.

The e-mail directed recipients to search for the company's 990 IRS file at the nonprofit financial reporting website guidestar.org. Although Mr. Haley said the entire contents of the e-mail are inaccurate, Guidestar does indeed indicate that Messrs. Mahone and Hyde received salaries of $280,000 in 2006, as the memo stated. However, Mr. Haley said they are still employees of the RAB.

The fraudulent memo continued, "Look at just how out-of-balance our salaries were in 2006, particularly at the SVP level. That tells me either Mahone has been handing out SVP titles like candy or we have some severely underpaid female SVPs. I'm sure we were relieved that the rules changed when we filed our 2007 990 because thankfully you won't see that on the 2007 form.

"Frankly, I'm tired of our organization being so blatantly sexist," the memo continues. "We employ -- or could employ -- some of the most talented female professionals available, yet we've continued to overpay a group of mediocre to sub-par 'good ol' boys.'"

The RAB refuted the writer's statements. "The content of this fraudulent memorandum is entirely baseless. The RAB is proud of its inclusive track record, and will not be bullied by the cowardly acts of an individual who chooses to make anonymous false accusations. We regret any embarrassment or difficulties that this act of vengeance has caused for our employees and former employees."

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