Dugan’s short-lived tenure as Portnow’s successor began Aug.1, 2019, and her salary — as well as any changes in expenditures that occurred under her short-lived tenure — are not indicated in this filing.
Five days after being put on administrative leave on Jan. 16, 2020 — just 10 days before the 62nd Grammy Awards — and eventually terminated, Dugan filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). According to Dugan’s EEOC complaint, she learned in May 2019 that “[Joel] Katz and his law firm [Greenberg Traurig] are paid an exorbitant amount of money by the Academy.” She accused the academy of being “boys’ club network” — a place “where men work together to the disadvantage of women and disenfranchised groups in order to line their own pockets and maintain a firm grip of control on the Academy’s dealings.”
“This is evident in many ways,” the complaint elaborated, “including, but not limited to, the Board’s willingness to acquiesce to the payment of exorbitant legal fees to male partners of large law firms who are extremely conflicted with respect to their work for the Academy.”
Dugan is still engaged in arbitration proceedings with the academy, according to sources. Sources say that Greenberg Traurig and Proskauer Rose continue to conduct legal work for the academy.
During the Billboard Roundtable, Mason said that the academy had considered hiring an in-house counsel “for probably the last five or so years,” But he added that it was not a decision he could make unilaterally. “The finance committee, the trustees — these are decisions that would go beyond just the CEO or even the chair. It is something that we are evaluating,” he said.
Dugan’s EEOC complaint claims that she was removed from office, not because of complaints that she had bullied coworkers, but because she raised concerns about “egregious conflicts of interest, improper self-dealing by Board members and voting irregularities with respect to nominations for Grammy Awards, all made possible by the ‘boys’ club’ mentality and approach to governance at the Academy.”
In addition to Katz and Greenberg Traurig, Dugan’s EEOC complaint contends that media reports have identified Proskauer Rose (and former Proskauer Rose partner, Chuck Ortner) as another firm that has billed millions of dollars to the Academy”.
“Both Mr. Katz and Mr. Ortner are currently Board members of the Academy’s museum,” the report continues, claiming that “during the first week of her employment Ms. Dugan was asked to approve a $250,000 retainer agreement to Mr. Ortner for “consulting” services.”
The academy’s most recent 990 shows that 35.7%, of the legal fees the academy paid in fiscal year 2019 went to those two firms: Greenberg Traurig received $1,472,364 and Proskauer Rose received $1,035,240. The academy paid out additional $4,522,077 in additional legal fees, which are not itemized.
With the exception of 2016, those totals are in line with the amounts paid to the two firms over the last three years. According to the last six 990 filings, Greenberg has been paid $13,144,028 in legal fees and Proskauer Rose $3,644,576 since 2013:
- 2017: The academy paid Greenberg Traurig $1,758,388, Proskauer Rose $906,691 and $3,737,440 in unspecified legal fees.
- 2016: Greenberg Traurig was paid $6,309,936. (The significant increase may related to the academy’s negotiations to extend CBS’ broadcast of the Grammys through 2026, given Mason’s comment during the Roundtable that, “We’ve done two contracts with CBS — deals that were in the hundreds of millions of dollars — and the commissions from those deals are part of the legal fees we paid over the last few years.) Proskauer Rose received $873,611. Additional legal fees totaled $3,922,593.
- 2015: The academy paid Greenberg Traurig $1,167,029, Proskauer Rose $829,034, and $2,169,229 in additional legal fees.
- 2014: The academy paid Greenberg Traurig $1,107,705, Proskauer Rose is not listed in the filing, and $1,925,119 in additional legal fees.
- 2013: The academy paid Greenberg Traurig $1,328,606, Proskauer Rose is not listed in the filing, and $1,824,446 in additional legal fees.
By comparison, the Academy of Motion Pictures’ most recent 990, indicates a total of $1,724,551 in legal fees in 2018. That included $313,137 for an in-house general counsel and additional legal fees of $1,411,414.
The Recording Academy’s fiscal 2019 filing also indicates that its income from the Grammys totaled $82,984,592 and that it spent $22.4 million in salaries and employee benefits in 2018 — including Portnow’s $1,174,972 base salary. It also paid $17,822,438 to AEG Ehrlich Ventures, which produced the Grammys telecast, and distributed $8 million in grants.
Recording Academy, Greenberg Traurig and Proskauer Rose did not provide comment at time of publishing.