The ugliness over at the Human Rights Campaign over its president Alphonso David's alleged involvement in consulting with Andrew Cuomo regarding his sexual-harassment and sexual-assault scandal has gotten, well, uglier.
Over the weekend, David declared his involvement was deemed to have been nonexistent by an HRC investigation, that the report would not be released and that he would not resign in spite of being asked to do so by two Board members.
Last month, the Human Rights Campaign and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation Boards of Directors announced a board-led investigation into Alphonso David’s actions related to the New York Attorney General’s report regarding the allegations of sexual harassment by former Governor Andrew Cuomo. This investigation was conducted through the Executive Committees of the Boards, constituted of their independent Directors, with the assistance of Sidley Austin. 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.
Yesterday and today, Mr. David released a statement that included significant untruths about the investigation and his status with the organization.
At HRC, we are fighting to bring full equality and liberation to LGBTQ+ people everywhere. That includes fighting on behalf of all victims of sexual harassment and assault. As outlined in the New York Attorney General report, Mr. David engaged in a number of activities in December 2020, while HRC President, to assist Governor Cuomo’s team in responding to allegations by Ms. Boylan of sexual harassment. This conduct in assisting Governor Cuomo’s team, while president of HRC, was in violation of HRC’s Conflict of Interest policy and the mission of HRC.
As a result of this conduct, material damage to HRC/HRCF’s interests, reputation and prospects has resulted or may be expected to result. Additionally, this conduct has created damage to Mr. David’s reputation significant enough to impair his ability to effectively serve as the public face and voice of HRC/HRCF. This damage is evidenced by the intense media surrounding this conduct as well as the hundreds of calls, emails and other negative communications HRC has received from staff, members of the Board of Governors, volunteers, program partners, general members, supporters, corporate partners, political figures, and more expressing serious concern with Mr. David’s conduct and its inconsistency with the values and mission of HRC.
This is a painful moment in our movement. While the Board’s decision is not the outcome we had ever envisioned or hoped for in terms of Mr. David’s tenure with HRC, his actions have put us in an untenable position by violating HRC’s core values, policies and mission. Mr. David has a distinguished career as a civil rights attorney and advocate. We are grateful for his leadership over the last two years launching new initiatives to deepen HRC’s commitment to the trans community, expand HRC’s legal work and work in communities of color, and fight voter suppression across the country.
As we move forward, our work fighting for all LGBTQ+ People, especially the most marginalized people in our community, remains at our core. Our work is also grounded in a commitment to dismantle racist, bigoted patriarchal systems that continue to oppress and marginalize people on the basis of race, ethnicity, language, culture, gender expression, sexual orientation, religion, and gender identity.
Joni Madison, the current Chief Operating Officer and Chief Staff of the HRC, will serve as Interim President, effective immediately, while the Boards engage in a search to fill the position. During this interim period, Jodie Patterson and Morgan Cox, as Chairs of the Boards and of the Executive Committees, will closely partner with Joni to provide assistance and support, including with outward facing engagement with our members, volunteers, donors and supporters and other key stakeholders.
I know orgs like HRC are out of favor, and they spend far too much money (David's salary was said to be close to half a million dollars a year) on things not directly related to their causes, but I'm Team HRC on this one. It seems clear David was tainted, should have resigned and is instead positioning himself for a mega-bucks lawsuit — to drain even more $$$ from LGBTQ causes.