RSL Victoria’s suspended chief executive purportedly circulated an email to staff telling them that news of an old dating profile was an attempt to embarrass him.
Jamie Twidale has been removed from the top job amid an independent investigation into his conduct.
It’s unknown whether the staff email, sent earlier in June, forms part of the inquiry.
In the email, seen by AAP, Mr Twidale said he wanted to address social media posts on veterans’ forums about his old Tinder profile that had sought “to embarrass me and call my personal qualities into question”.
“The content of the profile is fairly benign but there is a very mild fifty shades of grey tinge to it,” Mr Twidale told staff in the email, noting that the profile was from before he became CEO.
“I have in the past had an open relationship and yes, I had a Tinder profile but no longer do.
“I am neither embarrassed nor ashamed of anything I have done in my personal life.”
Mr Twidale said he was not in a position to comment when contacted by AAP.
He was a candidate for Fiona Patten’s Reason Party, previously known as the Sex Party, in the 2018 Victorian election, winning 365 first-preference votes.
Mr Twidale took over as RSL CEO in 2019 after more than 20 years in the army and with the SES in Queensland and Victoria.
He served in Afghanistan, East Timor and the Solomon Islands.
On Sunday RSL state president Rob Webster said an acting CEO, Brian Cairns, had been appointed until further notice.
“An independent investigation has been commissioned by RSL Victoria into matters regarding the chief executive officer,” Dr Webster said in a statement to RSL branches.
“The results of that investigation are being considered by the state executive, and additional steps will be taken in accordance with RSL policy and procedures.
“We take any concerns regarding staff behaviour extremely seriously and ensure proper processes are followed.”
There has been turmoil at the Victorian RSL in recent times.
Late last year, an Ernst and Young review of the veterans organisation found it was in a “precarious” financial position and needed a major restructure.
Victoria’s RSL sub-branches lost almost a year’s worth of hospitality revenue since clubs were forced to close in 2020, while donations dropped by about a third.
The organisation has experienced cultural tensions as younger veterans push for greater representation, while the management of Anzac Day marches under COVID restrictions has also caused debate.