Staff at the nation’s largest LGBTQ rights organization are bitterly divided over whether their president, Alphonso David, should resign over his role in New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s efforts to retaliate against women accusing him of sexual harassment.
Some Human Rights Campaign employees also say counsel threatened them with consequences if they so much as talked to each other about this month’s bombshell report from the New York attorney general that revealed how David had assisted the Democratic governor’s attempt to discredit his accusers.
HRC is currently conducting its own investigation into David’s potential wrongdoing, and counsel told staff they weren’t allowed to speak about the report until the probe is done.
That warning has since been walked back. But it’s the latest sign of internal chaos at the organization, which is facing an existential crisis as it navigates its way forward with David, disillusioned employees and how it positions itself as an ally to survivors of sexual harassment and assault.
David, who served as Cuomo’s counsel from 2015 to 2019, appears to have played a significant role in the governor’s retaliation against some of his accusers. He has denied any wrongdoing.
The New York attorney general’s report states, for example, that David provided a confidential personnel file to Cuomo’s top aides, which they used to discredit one of his accusers, Lindsey Boylan. The former Cuomo staffer has accused the governor of sexual harassment, including kissing her without consent in his office and inviting her to play strip poker on a government airplane.
The report also states that David was involved in discussions about calling and secretly recording a conversation between a former Cuomo staffer and another Cuomo accuser named Kaitlin, whose last name has not been made public. Kaitlin claims that in 2016, the governor grabbed her at a fundraiser and put her into a dance pose for photographers. She says the governor had his staff reach out to offer her a job two days later.