A feud between an ex-employee and two co-founders at heavyweight Scottsdale PR firm Rose, Moser and Allyn escalated from social media messages and an epic phone rant posted on YouTube to two restraining orders issued on Monday.
The ex-employee, Melissa Rein Lively, alleges that Rose's firm lacks ethics and uses “its powers for evil.” One of its principals has engaged in a smear campaign against her, she claims, by telling others, including her clients, that she’s mentally ill.
A lawyer for the firm said that these co-founders “have a lot of concern” for the ex-employee and her mental health.
Last Thursday, in a phone call worthy of reality television, Lively castigated Jen Moser, a principal and co-founder of the firm. She recorded the phone call and posted the full audio recording on YouTube (below).
"You’re a mean person, and you run with a mean crew," she says in the recording, unleashing a string of other vague criticisms. "I have always used my powers for good! That’s why I could not work for Jason."
"It's all over social media," Moser says to Lively of her previous messages.
"Yeah, no shit?" Lively responds. "It's called a take-down. You know what? All those mean, terrible things that you said about me to so many people? How you tried to kill my business? I just killed yours, and you deserved it. And I'm a nice person."
Moser laughs and notes that "five people" are listening to the conversation.
"Where do you get your blow?" a male voice then asks Lively. "We need to know. Because you are fucked up, bitch."
Lively worked for the firm starting in 2007 or 2008, before leaving in August 2009, she told Phoenix New Times.
The "Jason" to which she refers in the recording is Jason Rose, the PR firm’s founder, spinmeister, and heavyweight in the Arizona PR scene. Among his clients are notorious, racial-profiling Maricopa County ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Rose also has helped buff the images of LifeLock and Pink Taco. His reputation is that he’ll shill for just about anybody.
Separately, in 2011, Rose made headlines (and lost his client, Special Olympics Arizona) for making fun of people with disabilities.
In other words, Lively has a point. Doing PR for Joe Arpaio doesn’t belong in the category of using "one’s powers for good." And mocking people with disabilities? That’s just cruel.
But in the phone call posted on March 21, Lively sounded increasingly unhinged.
Last week, she showed up at the offices of Rose, Moser and Allyn with a cake. It bore a quote that Lively told New Times she attributes to Rose — “perception is reality” — and the word NetFlix, to help make her point that she was working on a project for the streaming service.
She recorded that visit and posted it on YouTube, too. Moser and Rose were both out of the office when she showed up.
The people on the receiving end of Lively’s activities claim that they’re worried about her mental health. Rose and Moser went so far as to file for restraining orders against her, and on Monday, a judge signed them.
Those orders requested that Lively stay at least 100 yards away from Rose and Moser's respective homes in Paradise Valley; from the firm, which is in Scottsdale; and from two different schools, the injunctions show. They also demanded that Lively not contact them in any way.
Rose’s restraining order alleges that since the beginning of March, Lively had "engaged in a course of conduct that seriously alarms me," including "unwanted and uninvited electronic communications."
"Last week, she came to my office uninvited and announced, though I have no current business dealings with her," it added, noting that Lively had posted a recording of the exchange on social media, then sent Rose "an uninvited electronic communication stating that it [sic] she 'missed you at the party at your office' and that it was 'highly amusing.'"
Moser’s allegations were similar. Her injunction claimed, too, that Lively had written to her, "I’d be real worried if I were you" and "your days are numbered."
In the recorded phone call, when she was able to squeeze a word in around Lively, Moser held her own in the verbal fisticuffs.
“Tell me how I was a shit-starter and fucked up your life,” she challenged Lively during the call.
Rose declined to comment other than saying, "It’s an unfortunate situation."
Moser was not able to comment by phone to New Times before deadline, although she said via text message that Lively was "spreading false accusations," "has threatened me," and that it was "concerning."
"We have absolutely no idea what is motivating this irrational behavior," said Jason Lamm, the firm’s attorney. "And frankly, it's sad. We hope her health is okay." He described Lively's statements as "either wildly false or unintelligible."
"Our hope is that the restraining order will put a stop to this," Lamm added.
Lively said early Monday evening that she had not yet been served with papers, but upon hearing about them, she seemed unperturbed.
"I actually prefer them to stay very far away from me," she said. She acknowledged she had indeed messaged Moser on Instagram, letting her know to be worried.
"If I was going to be accountable for my actions over the last 10 or 20 years, I’d be worried, too," Lively added.
According to Lively, one thing that prompted her phone confrontation with Moser was that Moser had been spreading false rumors about her.
"I’d found out that she was going around town telling everybody that I was crazy, mentally ill, having a mental breakdown, and that I was well on my way to the mental institution," she told New Times.
Unbeknownst to New Times at the time, Lively recorded her call with New Times. That, too, along with follow-up calls, she posted to YouTube.
Below, listen to the squabble with Moser and others that Melissa Rein Lively posted to YouTube, called "BEST PR CAMPAIGN OF ALL TIME @MELISSAREINBOWS POWERS OF GOOD OVER EVIL:"