Time's up? Progressive rights groups implicated in Cuomo's retaliation against accusers

When Lindsey Boylan went public with her accusations of sexual harassment against Andrew Cuomo, she had every reason to expect support from groups like Time’s Up and Human Rights Campaign. Both have advocated for years on the issue of harassment by those in power; Time’s Up formed explicitly to defend women who come forward with such allegations. Not until New York Attorney General Letitia James published the report on the investigation into Cuomo did Boylan realize that both organizations had indeed chosen a side — and it wasn’t hers:

This week, an independent investigation commissioned by New York Attorney General Letitia James found that the subsequent effort by the governor’s office to undermine the credibility of former Cuomo adviser Lindsey Boylan — by leaking her private employee records and circulating a draft of a letter that impugned her credibility — amounted to “unlawful retaliation.”

Attorney Roberta Kaplan, a co-founder of Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, and Alphonso David, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, are now facing questions about their role in Cuomo’s aggressive effort to fight back against his accusers. …

Kaplan is described in the attorney general’s report as conferring with Time’s Up President Tina Tchen at the request of a Cuomo adviser about the appropriateness of the letter Cuomo’s aides were preparing to release that pushed back on Boylan by, among other things, attacking her political motivations and denying the legitimacy of her claims. Top Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa, who was legally represented during the investigation by Kaplan’s law firm, told investigators that Kaplan was “fine” with the document with some changes.

Boylan’s attorney describes her reaction to this revelation as “shocked, just shocked.” And well she should have been. Kaplan tried explaining this away as her effort to make sure that the Cuomo response to the public allegations would remain respectful, but that doesn’t pass the smell test:

“While it turns out the response was never published, I made it very clear that any response should never shame an accuser,” Kaplan said in a statement when asked about her role in shaping the letter about Boylan. “Given the revelations in the New York Attorney General report, I support and agree with Time’s Up that Governor Cuomo should resign.”

Tchen said in an interview that while she did not remember the particulars of what she discussed with Kaplan, she was angry that Cuomo’s office had tried to use that conversation internally to justify the letter. She said she was confident that she would have pushed back on any effort to attack Boylan.

“You cannot make any attempt to attack or discredit a person who has come forward with allegations,” Tchen said. “Had those parts existed in what was read to me, I would have said, ‘Do not say that.’ ”

This evades the basic question: why were they working with Cuomo at all on this? Their involvement in the Cuomo response makes them part of his team, whether they want to admit it or not. Presumably, Time’s Up was more concerned about access to political power to advance their agenda than they were in holding a powerful man accountable — or at least staying out of the way. Instead, Time’s Up at the very least helped the accused with messaging, while Cuomo later on lashed out at the accuser anyway.

If this sounds familiar to readers, it’s because they can recall the feminist reaction to Bill Clinton’s sexual-behavior scandals.

The actions by Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David, as alleged in the report, are even more reprehensible:

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Alphonso David allegedly helped leak the confidential personnel file of a former aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) who accused the state leader of sexual harassment. …

David was a counselor to Cuomo in 2018 when Boylan resigned after Cuomo allegedly kissed her without her consent. David kept Boylan’s confidential information, including workplace complaints about her, when he left Cuomo’s office to become president of HRC in 2019, according to James’s report.

After Boylan publicly accused Cuomo of sexual harassment last year, David allegedly shared Boylan’s personnel file with a top Cuomo adviser, who then leaked the information to several reporters.

“The evidence obtained in our investigation revealed that the complainants’ fears of retaliation were justified,” James’s report states.

The bombshell report states that David helped prepare a plan to discredit another accuser, in which Cuomo would call her and secretly record their conversation.

One of the claims made by Human Rights Campaign is that they “tackle inequality on all fronts.” It’s good to know that someone’s looking out for the oppressed members of the, er, minority of powerful executives that sexually harass their underlings. Their donors must be especially proud today.

This demonstrates a common conceit among progressive cause groups. They claim to focus on injustice, when in fact they’re much more interested in electing allies and them protecting them once in office. The fact that the first impulse in the leadership of both groups was to curry favor with Cuomo rather than at least waiting for the evidence is all we need to know about the real purpose of these two groups. And probably more than a few others as well.