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Emails reveal more infighting at HRC over Alphonso David resignation

The embattled president suggests he will not step down.

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The defiant leader of the Human Rights Campaign, Alphonso David, has suggested he will not step down despite pressure from the organization’s board.

The saga began last month after New York Attorney General Letitia James released her report on the sexual harassment scandal involving disgraced ex-governor Andrew Cuomo. The report implicated the HRC president in possible wrongdoing and unethical behaviors including allegedly attempting to smear the name of one of Cuomo’s accusers and inappropriately handling confidential and personal information.

Upon first hearing of David’s involvement, HRC pledged their unwavering support for him by renewing and extending his contract. After organization-internal pushback and negative media coverage, HRC agreed to hire long-standing partner law firm Sidley Austin to conduct an internal investigation. The probe was criticized by some as a possible conflict of interest.

In a complete about-face, the co-chairs of the board of HRC, Jodie Patterson and Morgan Cox, then recanted their support of David and have, in essence, called him a liar.

On Sept. 12 David released a statement that was sent to the entire organization in which he asserts that Patterson and Cox told him privately that the internal investigation was complete and that he was exonerated of any misconduct.

“I have now been privately contacted by the two co-chairs of the HRC board and their representatives, who informed me verbally that the review period has been completed and that there is no indication of wrongdoing on my part,” David wrote. “Despite the lack of any findings, the board co-chairs have now asked me to consider resigning, not because of any wrongdoing, but because they feel that the incident has been a ‘distraction’ for the organization.”

David further claimed that the board wanted to conduct this business over the Labor Day weekend to keep it quiet and to keep media attention away from it; however, David made sure that was not the case by tweeting out his full statement. “I have the support of too many of our employees, board members, and stakeholders to walk away quietly into the night. I am not resigning,” he defiantly wrote.

After going public with his statement, the New York Post reported that Patterson and Cox made their own statement in an organization-wide email sent on Labor Day. They called out David for being misleading and untruthful. “Yesterday, you received an email from Alphonso David. We were very surprised and disappointed by the inaccuracies in his portrayal of events,” the co-chairs wrote.

They also mentioned the internal investigation and went even further insinuating David’s dishonesty. “Over the past month, the boards of the Human Rights Campaign and Human Rights Campaign Foundation have undertaken a thorough investigation into Mr. David’s conduct regarding Governor Cuomo through the Board’s Executive Committees with the assistance of counsel. That investigation will soon be completed, and the Boards will then have more to say.

“As that process was nearing its conclusion, Mr. David was offered, at the direction of the Committee, the opportunity to discuss in good faith a separation from HRC, and his lawyers began that discussion on his behalf. Mr. David’s email yesterday is unfortunate given his mischaracterizations, including the assertion that there was ‘no indication of wrongdoing on his part’,” they continued.

Not to be outdone, David jumped to have the final word. He issued yet another statement last week claiming the HRC board co-chairs were being dishonest in their portrayal of events. He contends that Patterson and Cox originally told him that the Sidley Austin investigation was complete but refused to offer any formal report of the findings while at the same time asking him to resign. Yet now they are admitting that the investigation is not yet complete.

“Their statements have been so contradictory that we will now see what if anything they produce, and whether it will be on Sidley Austin letterhead as it must be, or something else written by the co-chairs,” David stated.

David further made a baseless claim that this entire ordeal was preconceived and orchestrated from the beginning despite the fact that immediately after the New York Attorney General’s report was released, HRC renewed and extended his contract as president. “We’re all left wondering whether this whole process was preordained from the start,” he said.

At the end of his statement, David reiterated that he has no intention of resigning despite the clear tension and strife his presence is causing within the organization. “Neither my lawyers nor I ever suggested at any point that I would even consider stepping down. Our simple and repeated demand was that they share the Sidley Austin report.”

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