Human Rights Campaign President Fired for Advising Cuomo on Scandal Response

Photo: John Amis/AP/Shutterstock

Alphonso David, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, was fired by the organization following an investigation into his involvement in former governor Andrew Cuomo’s response to allegations of sexual harassment against him. David was named the president of the LGBTQ advocacy group in August 2019, becoming the first person of color to lead the Human Rights Campaign in its 40-year history.

David was named in the report issued by Attorney General Letitia James’s office that detailed how Cuomo and several of his staff members sought to discredit Lindsey Boylan, a former aide who accused the former governor of harassment. David, who previously worked in the Cuomo administration as his top counsel, was in communication with members of the governor’s team about Boylan.

The report states that David provided confidential files about Boylan from his time in the governor’s office to Cuomo’s communications director and that “some of the internal memoranda and documents created by Mr. David and his team for and after this meeting ended up being the confidential documents that were released to reporters following Ms. Boylan’s first allegation of sexual harassment against the Governor.”

David reportedly also read and assessed a draft of a letter intended to refute the claims made by Boylan. The letter was never released.

After the news of David’s involvement, the HRC began a probe into its leader’s behavior, calling his inclusion in the state attorney general’s report “very concerning.”

“Following the completion of that investigation, the HRC and HRC Foundation Boards of Directors have voted to terminate Mr. David for cause, effective immediately, for violations of his contract with the Human Rights Campaign,” Morgan Cox and Jodie Patterson, the chairs of the Human Rights Campaign and Foundation boards respectively, said in a statement released Sunday.

Cox and Patterson said David’s role will temporarily be filled by Joni Madison, the current chief operating officer of HRC, as they search for a permanent replacement.

David is pushing back against his ouster, claiming that he demanded “truth and transparency” from the board co-chairs but they “elected to hide in darkness.”

“As a Black, gay man who has spent his whole life fighting for civil and human rights, they cannot shut me up. Expect a legal challenge,” David said in a statement posted to Twitter.

The HRC is not the only organization that had members implicated in the state attorney general’s report. Roberta Kaplan, the former chair of Time’s Up, recently resigned from her position for taking part in the drafting of the letter against Boylan. The group’s CEO, Tina Tchen, also stepped down from her role following her involvement in the Cuomo team’s strategizing for dealing with the harassment allegations.

All this turnover prompted the entire Time’s Up’s board to step down on September 4, with their seats to be filled by all new members moving forward.

“We see the current crisis within TIME’S UP as an important opportunity for growth and change,” the group said in a statement.

Human Rights Campaign President Fired for Helping Cuomo