Alphonso David, Leader Of Human Rights Campaign, Faces Calls For Resignation New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo allegedly relied on liberal allies to fight charges of sexual harassment. Now, one of those allies, the head of Human Rights Campaign, is facing demands that he resign.

Cuomo Scandal Entangles Leader Of Influential LGBTQ Advocacy Group

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1025454941/1025551770" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing an impeachment inquiry and now, as announced this week, a criminal complaint based on allegations of sexual harassment from 11 women. The state's investigation into Cuomo's behavior has also entangled one of his former advisers, the president of the influential LGBTQ rights group Human Rights Campaign, who denies any wrongdoing. NPR investigative correspondent Tom Dreisbach reports.

TOM DREISBACH, BYLINE: Not that long ago, Alphonso David, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, was singing the praises of his former boss.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ALPHONSO DAVID: It is my pleasure to introduce the state's greatest advocate for the LGBTQ community and my dear friend, Andrew Cuomo.

DREISBACH: That was February 2020. Now, since the investigation into sexual harassment by New York's attorney general, both Cuomo and David have faced demands that they resign - Cuomo from the governorship, and David from his prominent role at the largest LGBTQ advocacy group in the country. Both are refusing to step down.

Here's where Alphonso David fits into that investigation. Back when David worked as a legal adviser for Cuomo in 2018, he compiled confidential personnel files on a state employee named Lindsey Boylan. Boylan was having a conflict with co-workers, not related to sexual harassment, and she decided to resign. Later in 2020, Boylan went public with an explosive allegation. She tweeted that Cuomo had sexually harassed her. At one point, she said Cuomo kissed her without her consent. Another time, he suggested they should play strip poker. Cuomo denies this. Anne Clark worked on the attorney general's investigation, and she says at that moment, Cuomo team scrambled.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANNE CLARK: A team of senior staffers, former staffers and outside confidants with no official title or role mobilized to attack and try to neutralize Ms. Boylan by sharing disparaging information with the press.

DREISBACH: By this time, David had left his government job. He'd become president of Human Rights Campaign. But the report says he had kept some of Lindsey Boylan's confidential personnel records. And it says, when asked, David sent them to Cuomo's team, and that team leaked Boylan's records to the media. The report says Cuomo and his advisers also drafted a letter attacking Boylan. David did not sign that letter, and it was never sent, but the report says he did help gather signatures. Lindsey Boylan's attorney, Jill Basinger, told me she was surprised by just how many people in and out of government were allegedly involved in this effort.

JILL BASINGER: It's really horrifying to think of the amount of power that was put together to attack Lindsey.

DREISBACH: The report says that Alphonso David was also part of discussions about surreptitiously recording another woman who accused Cuomo of acting inappropriately. Remember; all of this allegedly happened while David was leading the Human Rights Campaign. David has denied all wrongdoing. He said he was legally required to share those records with Cuomo's team and that he was unaware of sexual harassment claims at the time. Now David is himself calling for Cuomo to resign but says he plans to stay put. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says that's a problem. She's a Democrat and openly gay, and she says she will no longer accept any support from HRC while David is president.

DANA NESSEL: I just don't see how I can be consistent with my personal values and continue to be affiliated with this organization as long as Mr. David remains president.

DREISBACH: Do you think he should resign?

NESSEL: Absolutely. Yes.

DREISBACH: Charles Moran is with the conservative LGBTQ group Log Cabin Republicans, and he agrees.

CHARLES MORAN: I mean, it really is a level of hypocrisy that you can't get away from, and it really diminishes what should be the important work of an organization like that.

DREISBACH: Lindsey Boylan's attorney told me she is now planning a lawsuit against Cuomo for illegal retaliation. When I asked if Boylan might also sue Alphonso David, she said nothing is off the table. Human Rights Campaign did not respond to our requests for comment.

Tom Dreisbach, NPR News.

Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.