High-profile attorney Gloria Allred says reports that she is being investigated for misconduct by the California state bar are fueled by an extortion attempt and she hasn't been contacted by the regulatory body.
Allred's involvement in contentious women's rights cases involving public figures like President Donald Trump and Bill Cosby have made her a polarizing figure in her industry. She currently represents The Apprentice alumna Summer Zervos, who is suing Trump for defamation, as well as several women who say they were sexually assaulted by Cosby.
Reports that she is being investigated for unspecified claims first surfaced in a story by LawNewz.com on Friday. The site claims Allred's case "has been forwarded to the State Bar's Enforcement Unit for further investigation and possible prosecution."
Allred issued a statement Friday afternoon denying any wrongdoing.
"Someone has attempted to shake me down by threatening to report me to the State Bar unless I paid him a large sum of money," says Allred. "I have refused to pay this individual any amount of money. I will not be threatened or bullied byaccusations."
Kyle Hunter, a TV meteorologist whom Allred represented in a discrimination lawsuit against CBS in 2012, issued a statement Friday afternoon that says he is cooperating with the state bar after having been notified of the investigation.
"I do not know the matters being investigated by the Bar, but it could be in regards to alleged egregious conflicts of interest and self-dealing by Ms. Allred," says Hunter. "While representing me in an employment discrimination case against CBS Broadcasting, she worked without my knowledge, to secure herself a television series with CBS based on her life; a deal in fact she did strike and became a major stakeholder and executive producer."
Hunter's lawsuit claimed he was passed over for jobs because KCAL and KCBS stations shifted toward hiring young, attractive women as weathercasters to get more men to watch their newscasts. In that case, California's Second Appellate District found that the decision to hire an on-air news personality arises from the Constitutionally-protected right to free speech and therefore Hunter's suit was barred by the state's statute that prohibits such claims.
It further found that he failed to demonstrate a probability of prevailing on his claims and held that "in the absence of other evidence showing discriminatory motive, CBS's use of subjective criteria in hiring its newscasters does not support an inference of discrimination." (Read the decision in full here.)
Hunter says Allred severely injured him by filing a SLAPP lawsuit in his name that "created new case law adverse to every journalist and broadcaster, and possibly every employee, in California" and by settling the matter without his permission. Hunter has launched a website that seeks to hold Allred accountable, which he has been promoting on Twitter.
While LawNewz says it has seen a copy of the alleged letter from the California bar, Allred says she hasn't.
"The State Bar is required to notify lawyers in the event of any investigation," she says. "We have not been notified by the State Bar of any complaint or any investigation."
The Hollywood Reporter contacted the State Bar of California on Friday and has not yet received a response. Allred's record on the bar's website shows no history of discipline - something she also noted in her statement.
"I have a spotless record with the State Bar in the more than 40 years that I have been an attorney," says Allred. "I have no intention of allowing anyone to harm my reputation by making allegations against me which have no merit."
March 31, 4:30 p.m. Updated with comments from Hunter.