An attorney representing former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros in her suit against the network and its former chieftan Roger Ailes told a New York court on Wednesday that Fox was being investigated by federal authorities.
Judd Burstein said at a court hearing that he “was told by the U.S. Attorney’s office there is an ongoing criminal investigation, relating to these allegations, all of these allegations,” according to the New York Daily News. He said that one of his other clients received a subpoena to testify before a grand jury.
Tantaros filed a sexual harassment suit against Ailes and Fox in August.
Burstein also claimed outside the courtroom that there was “compelling evidence” Fox conducted electronic surveillance against her, according to NPR’s David Folkenflik. 21st Century Fox executives, according to NPR, privately noted that the claim was made six months after Tarantos’ lawsuit was filed and was timed to hit the company at a vulnerable time.
A spokeswoman for Fox News noted that at the hearing, the court granted Fox News’ motion to send Tantaros’ case to arbitration, “where it always belonged, and rejected her counsel Judd Burstein’s histrionics.”
“Apparently one of Mr. Burstein’s other clients has received a subpoena,” the spokeswoman said. “Neither Fox News nor [21st Century Fox] has received a subpoena, but we have been in communication with the U.S. Attorney’s office for months — we have and will continue to cooperate on all inquiries with any interested authorities.”
Burstein declined further comment, but said through a representative that press accounts of Wednesday’s hearing were accurate.
According to the Daily News, Burstein said at the hearing that the U.S. Attorney’s securities unit was leading the investigation, suggested that it centered on Fox News’ settlement offers in arbitration to employees who were making claims of sexual harassment, and whether those had to be disclosed in Securities and Exchange Commission filings.
In her lawsuit, she alleges that senior executives at the network retaliated against her after she complained about being inappropriate remarks made to her by Ailes. The suit seeks as much as $23 million, as well as $26 million in punitive damages and reimbursement of attorney fees.
Fox News and Ailes have denied wrongdoing. Ailes, the former chairman and chief executive of the network, stepped down in July, weeks after another on-air personality, Gretchen Carlson, filed a lawsuit against him and the network. In legal filings, lawyers for Fox News said Tantaros “is not a victim; she is an opportunist,” and indicated her claims against the network could not be substantiated. The network’s parent company had instigated an internal review after Carlson’s allegations were made, leading to Ailes’ ouster.