The largest LGBTQ rights advocacy group in the country has hired a top law firm to investigate work its president, Alphonso David, did to aid New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in responding to women who accused the governor of sexual harassment.
"We commend the courage of the many survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment who have come forward, and give them our full support," said Morgan Cox and Jodie Patterson, board chairs for the Human Rights Campaign and the HRC Foundation, on Monday, according to the Advocate.
"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," their statement said. "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 and foundation boards have hired the law firm Sidley Austin LLP to conduct an internal investigation to determine whether David's actions "aligned with HRC's mission and values, as well as with professional and ethics standards."
David is cooperating with the board-led investigation, which will take no longer than 30 days, according to the statement. The inquiry "will help shed light on the events that unfolded and guide the Boards on any necessary next steps," according to the statement and "will in no way hinder the organizations' continued pursuit of the critical work necessary to bring equity and liberation to the LGBTQ+ Community."
David will continue as president during the investigation, and the results will be released as soon as it has been completed, according to the Advocate.
David served as Cuomo's in-house counsel before he began working for HRC in 2019. When allegations of sexual harassment first emerged against Cuomo in December 2020, David became part of the response effort, according to the report issued last week by New York State Attorney General Letitia James.
According to that report, Cuomo sexually harassed several women and unlawfully retaliated against one of his accusers, Lindsey Boylan.
Cuomo's secretary, Melissa DeRosa, asked David for information on Boylan after she went public, the AG's report says, and David gave her records of a meeting he had with Boylan in 2018.
He has stated that as former counsel for the state, he was legally obligated to share such information, and the state had requested the records as well.
DeRosa resigned from her job Sunday night.
David was also consulted about a document Cuomo and others had drafted that defended Cuomo and denied the accusations by Boylan and others. He refused to sign it, saying he doubted some of its claims, but sought others to sign.
He recently told The Washington Post he did not know all the details of the allegations when he was sought out about the letter.
When the accusations were made against Cuomo on Tuesday by the AG's office, David called on the governor to resign.
"I fully endorse the decision of the boards of the Human Rights Campaign to conduct an independent review of the New York State Attorney General's report," David said. "It is an important effort to ensure the transparency that I have supported and engaged in with the board and staff since I joined this organization. I appreciate the open dialogue we are having and the support of so many across our organization."
"Multiple inaccuracies have been circulating, and therefore, this definitive review is important. For instance, I had no knowledge of any incidents of misconduct involving the 11 survivors referenced in the AG's report and in fact learned about these allegations by reading the report," he said.
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