KB Home’s board of directors pledged Thursday to cut chief executive Jeffrey Mezger’s bonus — and warned that he could be fired for another misstep — after his profanity-laced tirade against comedian Kathy Griffin.
Mezger, who leads one of the country’s largest home builders, has apologized for the outburst, which came after Griffin’s longtime boyfriend, Randy Bick, called the Los Angeles Police Department to complain about a gathering at Mezger’s home with his three young grandchildren, their mother and his wife.
Mezger’s rant against Bick and Griffin included explicit sexist and homophobic slurs, according to audio obtained by HuffPost, which first reported the story Tuesday.
“He has been a very effective CEO and a great leader for the Company,” the board wrote in a regulatory filing. “Mr. Mezger has the full and complete confidence of the Board. However, Mr. Mezger’s recent behavior in his personal dealings with a neighbor is unacceptable and a negative reflection on KB Home.”
In addition to cutting Mezger’s bonus by 25 percent, the board put him on notice, warning that “if in the future there is any similar incident, he will be dismissed.”
The crisis public relations firm representing the beleaguered chief executive noted in an email Thursday that “neither the company nor Mr. Mezger will have any further comment today.”
Griffin has not commented since the dispute became public.
The altercation was the latest episode in an ongoing dispute between Bick and Griffin and Mezger, who are neighbors in a posh gated community in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles.
The screaming was captured by a security camera, and Bick shared the audio with HuffPost. (You can hear it and read a transcript at this link. Be warned that it’s graphic.)
Mezger — whose company is the sixth-largest publicly traded home builder in the country — insulted Griffin in a string of crude comments that included a jab at Griffin’s bald head, which she shaved in solidarity with her sister, a cancer patient who died last week, according to a tweet from Griffin.
“War’s happening,” Mezger said, in one of his only lines that wasn’t obscene. “Don’t wait until we’re gonna bring some things on you.”
The apology came in a statement from KB Home.
“Mr. Mezger regrets losing his temper and the language he used,” the company, which is known for sustainable building, said in the statement. “It does not reflect who he is or what he believes.”
But some did not readily accept the company’s apology.
Suze Orman, the financial advice author and television personality, expressed her disgust on Twitter.
“You really want to buy a home from this man?” she tweeted. “Beyond Disgusting!”
The KB Home statement also said that while Mezger “does not believe there is any excuse” for his comments, there had been a “series of unneighborly actions” by Griffin and Bick that included calling the police and security from the local homeowners association seven to 10 times.
During the altercation, Mezger said Griffin was someone whom “Donald Trump kind of put the heat on,” apparently referencing her controversial “decapitation” photo shoot in May, in which she posed with a mask of President Trump covered in fake blood.
The image drew bipartisan criticism. Griffin apologized for the post but lost her longtime New Year’s Eve co-hosting job with CNN, which called the picture “disgusting and offensive.”
Trump tweeted at the time that Griffin “should be ashamed of herself.”
Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself. My children, especially my 11 year old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2017
Griffin would later take back the apology, saying “the whole thing got so blown out of proportion.”
This post, originally published Sept. 19, has been updated.