The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) fired its president, Alphonso David, amid reports about his close ties to former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who resigned last month while facing multiple allegations of sexual harassment.
The HRC, the country’s biggest LGBTQ advocacy group, said it fired David for cause after its board determined he had violated his contract. The termination was effective immediately.
“Yesterday and today, Mr. David released a statement that included significant untruths about the investigation and his status with the organization,” the group said in a statement posted on Twitter. “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.”
“This is a painful moment in our movement,” the statement continued. “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.”
David lambasted the decision late Monday, saying the firing was unjust and done “in order to end my fight for the integrity of the review process and for what is right.”
“As a Black, gay man who has spent his whole life fighting for civil and human rights, they cannot shut me up,” David said on Twitter. “Expect a legal challenge.”
David was the group’s first Black president and had served since 2019 after working as Cuomo’s chief legal counsel and secretary on civil rights. He became embroiled in the scandal emanating from the governor’s office after the New York attorney general’s report into the then-governor’s behavior mentioned David dozens of times, saying he had advised Cuomo on how to respond to some of the allegations.
The report, by Attorney General Letitia James, described 11 allegations of sexual harassment by Cuomo.
HRC launched an inquiry into David’s role after the James report was published, and The New York Times reported that the board found he had a conflict of interest in advising Cuomo during his final months in office. The Times added that David was involved in editing a letter meant to disparage one of the then-governor’s accusers, although David said he didn’t know the full scope of the claims.
David called on Cuomo to resign once the attorney general’s report was released.
David refused to step down after two of the HRC’s board chairs asked him to consider doing so, The Washington Post reported. He said on Twitter Sunday that an investigation into his ties to Cuomo showed “no indication of wrongdoing on my part,” although the HRC disputed that characterization.
Joni Madison, HRC’s chief operating officer, will serve as the group’s interim president until a replacement is named.