The leader of the nation’s largest gay-rights group aided New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo‘s campaign to discredit and silence sexual harassment accusers, according to a damning report into Cuomo’s misconduct released this week by state Attorney General Letitia James.
Cuomo’s collaboration with Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, has now thrown the LGBT activist organization into turmoil.
Before David became HRC’s president in August 2019, he was Cuomo’s deputy secretary and counsel for civil rights, a newly created position, from 2015 to 2019.
In the attorney general’s report, David is identified as a key confidante in Cuomo’s efforts to humiliate or threaten women who accused him of sexual misconduct.
One unidentified woman filed a criminal complaint against Cuomo after the report’s release.
In response to the bombshell disclosure of his involvement in Cuomo’s smear campaign, numerous HRC employees told David to resign at a staff meeting on Wednesday, the Huffington Post reported.
“You are creating a toxic environment where partners can’t trust us,” an HRC staff member said anonymously in the over-the-phone meeting. “When are you resigning?”
No one on staff defended David, but he denied the allegations.
“I read the report word for word, and it left me sickened to my stomach,” David said. “There’s nowhere in the report where it says that I was aware of any of these allegations.”
Lindsey Boylan, a former aide to the governor, accused Cuomo of giving her an unwelcome kiss and inappropriately soliciting her to play strip poker on a public plane.
The report claims that David gave Cuomo’s office material to malign her and that he participated in a plan to tarnish Boylan’s reputation.
David was initially skeptical about a plan to sign onto a letter that called Boylan’s accusations political and baseless—even suggesting they were an elaborate hoax to help former President Donald Trump.
But a Cuomo staffer said David agreed to sign the statement, though he did not believe in its content, “if we need him.” That letter never materialized.
“Do you plan to issue a public apology for agreeing to sign a draft [letter] disparaging an accuser while serving as president of HRC, per the AG’s report?,” an HRC employee asked.
“What I did agree to do was to talk about my personal experience at the governor’s office,” he said. “But I never agreed to sign a letter that would disparage any employee or any survivor of harassment.”
David told the attorney general’s office that, in a 2018 conversation with Boylan, she assured him that she “had not been subject to sex discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.”
Elsewhere in the report, a woman identified only as Kaitlin alleged that Cuomo groped her at a fundraiser, positioned her into a dance-pose for photographs, and then had his office offer her a job a few days later.
David, according to the AG’s report, participated in discussions about recording Kaitlin’s conversation with another Cuomo aide in an apparent effort to blackmail her. This plan never materialized, either.
David also offered to contact women whom he believed would praise Cuomo in a written statement and help restore his reputation.
After these allegations surfaced in the report, David directed attention away from his potential role in the cover-up and tweeted on Tuesday night that Cuomo must resign.
After reading the AG’s devastating report that concluded Gov. Cuomo engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment, in violation of both federal and state law, he should resign.
— Alphonso David (@AlphonsoDavid) August 3, 2021
HRC staff was allowed to submit questions anonymously at Wednesday’s meeting.
“The first question is, what did Alphonso David personally know about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s harassment of multiple women?” the moderator asked. “Was Alphonso David complicit in any way in a cover-up of Gov. Cuomo’s sexual harassment of women?”
“I knew nothing. Nothing,” David replied. “No one ever disclosed allegations of harassment with me, either during or after I worked in state service. Also, I never saw anything.”
The same day that the AG’s report was released, HRC renewed David’s contract for five years, according to the Daily Caller.
HRC Foundation Board Chair Jodie Patterson and HRC Board of Directors Chair Morgan Cox announced their “full confidence” in David.