The Miss California organization took the self-described “bold step” of appointing a possible replacement for current titleholder Carrie Prejean, pending Donald Trump’s decision as to whether or not the outspoken beauty queen will retain her crown.
Regardless of Trump’s decision, Miss California first runner up Tami Ferrell will serve as “an ambassador” for the state’s organization, appearing at events in Prejean’s absence or in situations where it would be “unwise” to send her, pageant co-directors Keith Lewis and Shanna Moakler said at a Beverly Hills press conference Monday.
A San Diego native, Prejean, 21, was named first runner-up in the April 19 Miss USA pageant during which she responded to a judge's question by saying she favored limiting marriage to a man and a woman.
Since then, the state pageant has been investigating whether the 21-year-old violated her contestant contract by making public appearances with groups opposed to same-sex marriage and by failing to reveal that she had posed in her underwear as a teenager.
While the photos of Prejean are racy -- with the beauty queen appearing to be topless with her back turned to the camera -- Lewis said that it was not the content of the picture that was a problem, but her failure to disclose its existence.
According to Lewis, Prejean’s actions have caused the Miss California title to be “hijacked,” preventing them from doing the necessary “work at hand.”
“Her contract outlines that she must be available to make appearances,” Lewis said, before adding that they have been unable to communicate directly with Prejean. “It is a huge conflict of interest.”
Lewis added that Prejean’s appearances with the National Organization for Marriage and other anti-gay marriage groups have created “confusion in the marketplace” because it is difficult to separate Prejean’s personal convictions from those of the Miss California organization.
But Lewis was far more critical of NOM, slamming them for “exploiting” Prejean for their own benefit when they “placed in her in a position to lose her crown, not for her beliefs but for a breach of contract.”
Addressing NOM director Maggie Gallagher by name, Lewis told her to “find a new place to recruit your henchman.”
But while the state organization can provide suggestions for the fate of Prejean’s crown, ultimately it is up to Trump, the owner of the Miss Universe organization, to make the final decision. In an interview with FOX News, he said he would announce that decision in a press conference tomorrow.
Trump has previously skirted around questions as to whether Prejean's photos violated any pageant rules.
"Most of these girls are models," Trump said. "They do things that are not necessarily a bad thing. And look, Carrie is a seriously good looking girl. Because of her looks, [they] are making such a big deal with this."
Despite criticizing her actions and appointing her replacement, neither Lewis nor Moakler would say directly whether they thought Prejean should be fired.
“I want to be supportive of Mr. Trump,” Lewis said. “It wouldn’t be fair to interject [my opinion]. Regardless, I'll be standing behind him and following through on his directive.”