Fox Business Network host Charles Payne was suspended by the network on July 6 after conservative analyst Scottie Nell Hughes accused him of sexual harassment. Payne, who is married and has children, did admit to having an affair with the woman, who is also married. Payne was off the air during the investigation, but returned in early September. On September 18, Hughes and her attorneys, Douglas Wigdor and Jeanne M. Christensen, filed a lawsuit against Payne and Fox, claiming that she was raped by Payne. After she told Fox executives, she was “blacklisted” from the network while Payne was not punished, she claims.
“My complaint speaks for itself. What is most important to me is that justice will prevent other women from going through the nightmare I’m now living,” Hughes said in a statement. “On my behalf, Wigdor LLP will expose Fox’s unconscionable conduct, including leaking my name to the media. I am grateful to my husband, family, friends and colleagues for the outpouring of love and support.”
The network confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that Payne was suspended. The Times did not initially report the identity of the woman, but sources told the Huffington Post that she was Scottie Nell Hughes, who appeared on CNN last year.
“We take issues of this nature extremely seriously and have a zero-tolerance policy for any professional misconduct,” a Fox Business Network spokesperson said in a statement. “This matter is being thoroughly investigated and we are taking all of the appropriate steps to reach a resolution in a timely manner.”
You can follow the 56-year-old Payne on Twitter. Despite his suspension, he has continued to tweet. “I will fight this like a lion armed with truth. Thanks so much to all those that have reached out in support,” he wrote in one message.
Here’s what you need to know about Payne and Fox News’ latest sexual harassment scandal.
1. Hughes Claims She Was Blocked From Working at the Network After Trying to Report Payne’s Alleged Harassment
Hughes contacted Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in June to report her allegations, reports the Times. She claimed she tried to tell Fox News executives, including then-co-President Bill Shine about Payne’s alleged harassment after she ended the three-year affair in 2015. Hughes also claims Payne threatened her to begin the affair.
Hughes was a guest analyst on Fox News and Fox Business Network shows during the affair and hoped to become a paid contributor. Sources told the Times that she thought her relationship with Payne would eventually lead to the job. But when she ended the affair, her guest spots decreased. She stopped contributing to Fox and worked for CNN in 2016.
The Times reports that Hughes claims she tried to speak with Shine between March 2015 and March 2016 about the affair but failed.
This was just the latest case of sexual harassment at the network. Before his death in May, former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes faced several accusations of sexual harassment from different women, including Gretchen Carlson. Bill O’Reilly was forced out in April 2017 after it was reported that he and Fox News paid a combined $13 million to settle five sexual harassment claims.
Although he wasn’t accused of sexual harassment, Shine was forced out of the company on May 1.
Hughes put her claims in her lawsuit, which you can read here. She alleges that she was “raped” by Payne and later learned she was “blacklisted” at the network through a booking agent. The lawsuit also claims that Fox leaked her name to the National Enquirer. She also claims that Fox never spoke to her when Payne was welcomed back to the network on September 8.
“On behalf of Scottie Nell Hughes, today we filed an action against Fox to hold it accountable for yet another case involving sexual harassment and retaliation inflicted by Fox executives in order to protect male, on-air talent,” Wigdor and Christensen said in a statement. “As alleged in the complaint, after Ms. Hughes confidentially reached out to Fox to disclose that she was sexually assaulted and raped by Fox anchor Charles Payne, Fox ruthlessly leaked her name to a reporter at the National Enquirer, along with a self-serving “statement” by Payne apologizing for what he falsely described as an “affair.” We intend to aggressively litigate Ms. Hughes’s claims and hold Fox accountable to the fullest extent under the law.”
You can read the complaint here. Payne has not responded to the allegations.
2. Payne Admitted in the National Enquirer That He Had a ‘Romantic Relationship’ With a Married Woman
Payne was suspended a day after the National Enquirer published a statement from Payne, in which he apologized to his wife, children and friends for having a three-year “romantic relationship” with a married political analyst, the Washington Post reports.
“I would like to extend an apology to my family and friends for having been involved in a romantic affair that ended two years ago,” Payne’s statement read.
Payne’s attorney, Neal Korval, told the Times that Payne “categorically denies” harassing Hughes and will fight her accusation in court if she files a complaint. According to the Huffington Post, Payne’s affair was well known among his Fox Business colleagues. They even shared a room at a Las Vegas hotel in 2015 when Payne was hosting Making Money With Charles Payne at the Money Show conference.
3. Fox Business Signed Payne to Multi-Year Contract in June 2017
Last month, Fox Business Network announced that it signed Payne to a new multi-year contract to continue hosting Making Money. Payne has been at the network since 2007 and started hosting Making Money in 2014.
“Charles’ ability to identify news-driven investment opportunities has made his show appointment viewing for the business audience. We’re thrilled to have him continue in his role as host of Making Money, which is the number one program in its timeslot,” FBN President Brian Jones said in a statement.
Making Money has become one of FBN’s top-rated shows, beating CNBC’s Mad Money With Jim Cramer in total viewers at 6 p.m. ET.
Celebrity Net Worth estimates that Payne has an estimated net worth of $10 million.
4. Payne’s Wife Yvonne Received a Heart Transplant in 2012 & Takes Part in Walks for Charity
Payne and his wife Yvonne Payne live in Teaneck, New Jersey. In 2012, Yvonne’s life was saved when she had a heart transplant. The Observer reports that the donor was child actress Sammi Kane Kraft, who died in a car accident in California.
Yvonne has taken part in several charity events to raise awareness for organ donation. She was a member of the NJ Sharing Network Board of Trustees. In 2014, Patch reported that Yvonne took part in a 5K run, which raised $700,000.
In a 2012 segment on his show, Payne said his wife needed a machine to survive before the transplant. Payne told his viewers that the successful heart transplant proved that Americans are still made of flesh and blood, despite their ideological and other differences, and can help each other through organ donation.
5. Payne Previously Ran Into Trouble With the SEC in 1999, Paying Thousands in a Settlement
Before Payne started his television career, he was well-known in the financial community. In 1985, he started working at E.F. Hutton as an analyst. In 1991, he founded Wall Street Strategies and is still CEO and principal analyst at the company.
In 1999, Payne’s company ran afoul of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC said in August 1999 that it alleged “violations of the securities registration, reporting and antifraud provisions in connection with abuses of Regulation S in the offer and sale of securities of Members Service Corporation.” The SEC’s complaint alleged that Wall Street Strategies suggested its clients by Members stock, while Payne didn’t reveal that he was taking money from the company to promote it.
Todd H. Moore, the former majority owner of Wall Street Strategies, was also president of a public relations firm working for Members and listed as a defendant. He had to pay $50,000. Payne had to pay a $25,000 civil penalty. The company itself paid a $10,000 civil penalty.
Prior to his work on Wall Street, Payne was enlisted in the United States Air Force. He attended Minot State University and Central Texas College.