(NEW YORK) — The president of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ advocacy group in the U.S., was terminated Monday night for allegedly helping former Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his response to sexual harassment allegations.
Alphonso David, a former lawyer for Cuomo, was voted out by the Human Rights Campaign and its foundation boards of directors “for cause, effective immediately, for violations of his contract.”
The Aug.3 New York Attorney General report, which alleged Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, alleged David sent files relating to accuser Lindsey Boylan’s employment history to Cuomo staff at the request of Cuomo’s then-secretary Melissa DeRosa in December 2020. The files were later shared with several journalists after Boylan tweeted that the Governor had sexually harassed her, the report said.
David, who worked as chief counsel to the governor from April 2015 until becoming president of the HRC in August 2019, was not working for the Cuomo administration at the time he sent the files.
Further, the report stated that the governor and a group of advisors worked on a draft letter in response to Boylan’s sexual harassment allegations. David reportedly received a draft of that letter. When the governor suggested to put signatures on the letter, “Mr. David testified that he told Ms. DeRosa that he was not signing the letter but was willing to reach out to others to see if they would sign it,” the AG report stated.
HRC and its boards of directors announced an investigation into his actions related to the AG report last month.
“As outlined in the New York Attorney General report, Mr. David engaged in a number of activities in December 2020, while HRC President, to assist Governor Cuomo’s team in responding to allegations by Ms. Boylan of sexual harassment,” Morgan Cox and Jodie Patterson, Human Rights Campaign and Foundation Board Chairs, said in a statement.
“This conduct in assisting Governor Cuomo’s team, while president of HRC, was in violation of HRC’s Conflict of Interest policy and the mission of HRC,” they added.
After news of his firing, David shared a statement on social media stating, “Expect a legal challenge.”
“After I demanded truth and transparency, the HRC board co-chairs who should stand for human rights elected to hide in darkness. They unjustly provided notice of termination to me in order to end my fight for the integrity of the review process and for what is right. I asked for the report, they refused. They lied about producing the report,” he said.
“As a Black, gay man who has spent his whole life fighting for civil and human rights, they cannot shut me up,” he added.
In a statement shared on his social media Sunday he said, “I was shocked and sick to my stomach and immediately called on Governor Cuomo to resign,” adding “I was also the one who called for HRC to conduct an independent review, and I participated in it fully.”
Joni Madison, the current chief operating officer and chief staff of the HRC will serve as interim president as the board search for a replacement.
His exit is the latest fallout from the report that also led Roberta A. Kaplan, the co-founder of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which fights for sexual harassment victims, to resign after the report named Kaplan as allegedly being involved in an effort to discredit one of Cuomo’s accusers. She resigned despite contesting the claim that she counseled Cuomo in responding to an accuser.
DeRosa, one of Cuomo’s top aides, also resigned last month after state investigators alleged she was part of the “retaliation” against one of his accusers.
Cuomo resigned last month after the damning report and amid a mounting chorus of calls for him to step down. He has consistently denied all allegations of sexual harassment.
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