The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the HRC Foundation have launched an investigation into current HRC president Alphonso David’s connections to the team of long-time insiders trying to keep Andrew Cuomo governor of New York. A New York Attorney General report made public last week offered some details of David’s role in moves to undermine those making sexual harassment accusations against the governor.
Fallout For Making Cuomo Governor: HRC Investigation
HRC board chair Morgan Cox and HRC Foundation board chair Jodie Patterson announced Monday that the organizations hired law firm Sidley Austin LLP to head an “internal investigation” of David’s actions as stated in the bombshell AG report released a week ago.
“Human Rights Campaign and Human Rights Campaign Foundation President Alphonso David’s inclusion in the New York State Attorney General’s report on the investigation of Governor Andrew Cuomo is very concerning,” Cox and Patterson said in a statement Monday. “Over the past several days, HRC’s employees, supporters, board members and partners have raised of fighting for equality and justice for all.”
The AG report revealed David’s involvement at multiple stages in Cuomo aides’ effort to craft a response meant to discredit the governor’s accusers. According to the report, David provided former Cuomo aide Lindsey Boylan’s confidential personnel file to officials in Cuomo’s office after Boylan publicly accused Cuomo of sexual harassment in Dec. 2020. Information from the file was leaked to major press outlets shortly afterward in hopes that it would undermine Boylan’s claims.
The file David possessed dated back to a 2018 meeting with Boylan when David headed Cuomo’s legal team. He held that position from 2015 until 2019 when he left to take his current position with HRC.
David also helped proof and provided feedback on an unpublished letter meant to discredit Boylan’s claims as politically motivated. According to the report, he chose not to sign the letter but later told top Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa that he would sign it if needed.
All of David’s actions as stated in the AG report occurred while he served as HRC president.
Roberta Kaplan, Others Resign
News of the HRC investigation comes as fallout from the AG report continues to ripple through multiple organizations and offices mentioned within. DeRosa abruptly resigned from Cuomo’s office Sunday night as the governor remained stubborn in refusing to resign.
Time’s Up co-chair Roberta Kaplan, who also provided feedback on the unpublished letter about Boylan, stepped down Monday after the release of an open letter from 40-plus survivors of sexual assault and harassment ridiculing Kaplan and the organization as a whole.
“Whether or not you agreed to help, perpetrators of harm felt comfortable reaching out to you for crisis management. That is a problem,” read the letter. “TIME’S UP cannot call for shining a light on sexual harassment and justice while working with our abusers in the shadows.”
In a statement to NBC News, Time’s Up responded to the concerns of those that penned the letter:
“We’ve worked to hold power accountable in board rooms, in the halls of government, and in organizations big and small, and we have felt uniquely capable of doing so because many of us have worked in those very institutions. Yet, we recognize that this work has sometimes resulted in a lack of trust from the broader survivor community we serve and to which we also belong. We are looking within.”Time’s Up
Kaplan, the lawyer who successfully argued for marriage equality at the Supreme Court, represented DeRosa during the AG investigation into Cuomo.
Alphonso David Responds
“The HRC and Foundation Boards of Directors take these questions very seriously,” the statement continued. “Sidley Austin will report only to and work at the direction of the Boards of Directors in conducting a thorough investigation. The investigation will include consideration of whether Alphonso David’s actions aligned with HRC’s mission and values, as well as with professional and ethics standards.”
“We commend the courage of the many survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment who have come forward, and give them our full support,” the statement added.
Multiple HRC employees openly called for David’s resignation during an all-staff meeting last week, saying that David’s inclusion in the AG report threatens the HRC as a whole.
According to the HRC chairs, David will remain in his position during the investigation and will fully cooperate with investigators. Both boards recently decided to extend his contract with the organization by five years, making the announcement the same day that the AG report was released.
David supported the investigation in a company-wide email obtained by The Huffington Post. “It is an important effort to ensure the transparency that I have supported and engaged in with the board and staff since I joined this organization,” David said.
Cuomo Governor and HRC: Previously on Towleroad
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