The nation’s largest LGBTQ rights advocacy group announced Monday that it is investigating its president’s role in helping Gov. Andrew Cuomo discredit women who accused him of sexual harassment.
“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,” Morgan Cox and Jodie Patterson, board chairs for HRC and the HRC Foundation, said in a statement released Monday morning.
“Over the past several days, HRC’s employees, supporters, board members and partners have raised questions about the appropriateness of Alphonso David’s actions and whether they align with HRC’s decades’ long mission of fighting for equality and justice for all.”
The HRC’s board of directors has retained Sidley Austin LLP to conduct an internal investigation into David’s actions, the statement said.
Statement from Morgan Cox and Jodie Patterson, Human Rights Campaign and Foundation Board Chairs pic.twitter.com/DliHiCIrSy
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) August 9, 2021
“Sidley Austin will report only to and work at the direction of the Boards of Directors in conducting a thorough investigation,” the HRC board chairs continued.
“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.”
“This board-led investigation, with which David is cooperating, will take no longer than 30 days, and will help shed light on the events that unfolded and guide the Boards on any necessary next steps,” the chairs said.
“This investigation will in no way hinder the organizations’ continued pursuit of the critical work necessary to bring equity and liberation to the LGBTQ+ Community.”
The HRC extended David’s contract for five more years on Tuesday, according to HuffPost — the same day Attorney General Letitia James announced the results of an investigation into Cuomo’s conduct.
The decision to extend his contract had already been in the works and only coincidentally occurred the same day that the report came out, the publication reported.
HRC has not responded to many requests for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.
David said in a Monday statement that he fully endorses the investigation as “multiple inaccuracies have been circulating” about his actions.
Here's Alphonso David's statement on HRC's investigation into him.
— Michael Gold (@migold) August 9, 2021
David publicly called on Cuomo to resign in a Tuesday evening tweet following news that the investigation found Cuomo “sexually harassed a number of State employees through unwelcome and unwanted touching, as well as by making numerous offensive and sexually suggestive comments” and that this conduct “was part of a pattern of behavior that extended to his interactions with others outside of State government.”
Cuomo denied Tuesday that he ever inappropriately touched anyone and said that those attacking him are discrediting “legitimate” victims of harassment.
David provided confidential files on Lindsey Boylan, one of the governor’s accusers, to senior Cuomo advisers, participated in the drafting of a letter discrediting Boylan and sought out women to provide positive statements about the governor, according to the report.
He reportedly kept confidential files “relating to his investigation into and counseling” of Boylan before she left the executive chamber.
The report also said that David provided these files to Cuomo senior adviser Richard Azzopardi on Dec. 11, shortly after Boylan began tweeting about Cuomo.
“Mr. David testified that he kept with him a copy of Ms. Boylan’s files because it ‘may have been the only instance where [he] was actually involved in a counseling of an employee when [he] was in the Executive Chamber,’” the report said.
Cuomo senior staffer Melissa DeRosa, who resigned Sunday, told other staffers in a Dec. 16 text message that David had agreed to sign a letter attempting to discredit Boylan “if we need him,” according to the report.
The report said that David had initially declined to sign the letter.
“The various drafts of this letter included complaints against Ms. Boylan that were part of the Confidential Files,” the investigation found. “The drafts also discussed alleged interactions between Ms. Boylan and male colleagues other than the Governor.”
The report also said that the letter “denied the legitimacy of Ms. Boylan’s allegations, impugned her credibility, and attacked her claims as politically motivated (including with theories about connections with supporters of President Trump and a politician with an alleged interest in running for Governor).”
Cuomo’s officials internally argued over the contents of the letter, and it was ultimately not published, according to the report.