Human Rights Campaign launches investigation into leader’s work for Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo next to Human Rights Campaign's president Alphonso David

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) will investigate its president because of his inclusion in a report on sexual harassment allegations against ex-governor Andrew Cuomo.

The HRC and its foundation said in a statement on Monday (9 August) that they have hired an “experienced outside law firm” to conduct an internal investigation of the work of president Alphonso David. According to the statement, the firm will investigate what David’s connection is to the claims against Cuomo and whether his 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 harassment who have come forward, and give them our full support,” the statement said.

It continued: “The last few days have been difficult here at the 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 has raised questions about his actions from Human Rights Campaign and Human Rights Campaign Foundation employees, supporters, board members and partners.

“And we know this last week has been made all the more difficult because so many in the LGBTQ community are survivors of assault and harassment themselves.”

This investigation should take “no longer than 30 days”, the group said.

Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David

HRC president Alphonso David speaks during the Human Rights Campaign’s 19th Annual Greater New York Gala on 1 February 2020 in New York City. (Getty/Gary Gershoff)

David has faced mounting criticism after an investigative report was released last week (3 August) detailing a laundry list of allegations against the former New York governor. The report by the state’s attorney general Letitia James claimed Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women and violated state and federal law.

According to the report, a prominent leader of Time’s Up, Roberta Kaplan, and David are accused of being involved in efforts by the governor’s office to discredit ex-Cuomo aide and his first accuser, Lindsey Boylan.

Both David and Kaplan were consulted over a letter the Cuomo administration drafted defending the governor and questioning Boylan’s allegations, the report stated. The letter was never published.

David – a former counsel to Cuomo from 2015 until he joined the HRC in 2019 – told the Washington Post that he chose not to sign the letter and he was not aware of the extent of the allegations against Cuomo at the time.

“Absent all the facts, I chose not to sign,” David said. “The facts as outlined in the report are devastating. Seeking our engagement without disclosing all of the relevant facts about any and all survivors is reprehensible.”

Cuomo has denied the allegations against him and even faced calls from the president to resign from office. On Tuesday (10 August), he announced that he would be leaving his role as governor of New York.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

New York governor Andrew Cuomo has resigned after an inquiry found he sexually harassed multiple women. (Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty)

“The best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to government,” Cuomo said in a press conference.

Cuomo’s resignation will take effect in two weeks. Power will then be transferred to lieutenant governor Kathy Hochul, who will become New York’s first female governor.

Cuomo was on his third-term as governor of New York state.

In the wake of the scandal, Kaplan also announced she would be leaving Time’s Up on Monday (9 August). The lawyer wrote a letter announcing her resignation that was then published in the New York Times.

“Unfortunately, recent events have made it clear that even our apparent allies in the fight to advance women can turn out to be abusers,” Kaplan wrote. “We have felt the raw, personal and profound pain of that betrayal.”