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Human Rights Campaign president refuses to resign despite link to Cuomo scandal
Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said in a statement Sunday that he would not step down despite his links to the scandal that led former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to resign last month.
The LGBTQ advocacy organization opened an investigation into its own president, who was previously a counselor to Cuomo, after New York state Attorney General Letitia James (D) released a report finding that the governor had sexually harassed 11 women who were former and current state employees.
David was pulled into the controversy because of his alleged involvement in efforts by Cuomo aides to smear the accusers.
However, David has since defended his actions — and in Sunday’s statement he said the HRC investigation had found no wrongdoing, though he added that the two co-chairs of the HRC board still wanted him to step down.
“Despite the lack of any findings, the board co-chairs have now asked me to consider resigning, not because of any wrongdoing, but because they feel the incident has been a ‘distraction’ for the organization,” David said in a statement.
“They told me they wanted to resolve the matter quietly during this holiday weekend leading up to the 30-day deadline for the review, hoping there would be less media interest during this time. I have the support of too many of our employees, board members, and stakeholders to walk away quietly into the night. I am not resigning,” he continued.
David was among many politicians and high profile leaders calling on Cuomo to resign following the release of James’ damning report.
After reading the AG’s devastating report that concluded Gov. Cuomo engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment, in violation of both federal and state law, he should resign.
— Alphonso David (@AlphonsoDavid) August 3, 2021
But details in James’ report quickly put David on the defensive.
In one case, David provided Cuomo’s team with a personnel file from one of the accusers, who had worked for him during his time in the governor’s office, which was later leaked to reporters in an effort to undermine the woman’s accusations.
David also told Cuomo aides he would help find individuals to sign onto an op-ed aiming to discredit a different accuser, according to the report.
In his statement Sunday, David called for the public release of the investigation commissioned by the HRC, which was conducted by law firm Sidley Austin.
In an email sent to staff on Monday, the HRC board took issue with David’s statement that investigation found “no indication of wrongdoing,” explaining that his response was not an accurate portrayal of the events, according to The Washington Post. The board also indicated that the investigation had not yet been completed.
The HRC board’s statement to staff also mentioned that discussions were underway about David separating from the organization, according to The Post.
The Hill has reached out to the HRC for comment.
In a follow-up statement responding to the board, Alphonso refuted the claim that he was considering stepping down and claimed that the co-chairs were “trying to backpedal and recreate truths.”
“This new statement tried to suggest that my lawyers engaged with their lawyers in a discussion about me possibly separating from HRC, indicating we were in the middle of some kind of negotiation. This is simply not true,” David said in a follow-up statement on Monday. “They contacted my lawyers, and neither my lawyers nor I ever suggested at any point that I would even consider stepping down.”
This story was updated on Sept. 6 at 4:37 p.m.
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