Turmoil at HRC as board fires president

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Photo by John Amis / AP for HRC
Photo by John Amis / AP for HRC

The HRC board fired its president, Alphonso David, on September 6 after an official report revealed he'd helped former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo handle sexual harassment charges.

According to the New York Times, the HRC's board met jointly with the board of its affiliated educational foundation in an emergency session on the night of September 6. The vote to fire David was reported to be unanimous, apart from two abstentions.

The firing was announced by the co-chairs of HRC's board, Morgan Cox and Jodie Patterson, in a statement that said that his actions in assisting Cuomo's teams had violated the organization's mission.

It also accused David of making statements that included "significant untruths" about the investigation and his role in the organization.

David's conduct had violated the HRC's "conflict of interest" policy, the statement said, and resulted in "material damage" to the reputations of David and the organization.

A report by New York State Attorney General Letitia James detailed the allegations of sexual harassment by Cuomo, and efforts by his aides to retaliate against the former governor's accusers.

David was identified in the report as involved in efforts to discredit Cuomo's first accuser, Lindsey Boylan.

Before joining the HRC, David worked as Cuomo's chief counsel from 2015 to 2019. David reportedly had a memo in his possession containing confidential information about Boylan's employment history.

David responded to his firing with a statement saying the group's board had "unjustly" provided notice of termination, and according to MSNBC, he vowed to bring a legal challenge.

"As a Black, Gay man who has spent his whole life fighting for civil and human rights, they cannot shut me up," he said.

In a separate statement, David said the group's co-chairs had asked him to resign but "didn't offer a shred of evidence of any wrongdoing on my part when I asked repeatedly." Referring to the document he helped draft, he said in a statement Sunday that he had a "legal obligation" to provide it to Cuomo but then spoke out against it.

Cuomo resigned as governor in August after a state investigation concluded that he sexually harassed multiple women who worked for him. He said it was "unfair" that he had to resign. He at times expressed regret for making young women uncomfortable but denied criminal wrongdoing.