Person

Alphonso David

Nationality:

American

Born:

1970

Occupation:

Democratic Lawyer

President, Human Rights Campaign (fired September 2021)

Alphonso David is a left-leaning lawyer who was the president of the LGBT-interest group Human Rights Campaign (HRC) from 2019 until his ouster in 2021. [1] David has held several positions during his career within the government, law firms, and left-of-center organizations. Most notably, David worked for over eight years in the administration of former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D). [2]

In August 2021, David became ensnared in the New York State Attorney General’s investigation and subsequent report into allegations that Gov. Cuomo had engaged in sexual misconduct towards female staff that led to Gov. Cuomo’s resignation. David was listed in the report multiple times as part of an alleged network of current and former Cuomo advisors who mobilized to discredit his accusers. David faced calls to resign his position as HRC president from prominent Democratic politicians and left-of-center groups, as well as from within the staff of the Human Rights Campaign, after the scandal. [3] [4] [5]

In early September 2021, HRC ousted David in a maneuver the New York Times characterized as a firing; David vowed a “legal challenge” in response. [6]

Background

Alphonso David completed a bachelor’s degree at the University of Maryland and graduated from the Temple University Law School in 2000. Following law school, he served as a law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Clifford Green, followed by a two-year stint at the law firm of Blank Rome LLP. From 2003 to 2007, David worked as a staff attorney at the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a left-of center legal foundation that litigates LGBT-interests cases. [7] [8]

New York State Government

In 2007, David began working for the New York state government as a deputy commissioner at the New York State Division for Human Rights. Afterwards, he worked as the New York State Special Deputy Attorney General for Civil Rights, where he led a team of attorneys investigating alleged employment, housing, and lending discrimination. [9]

In 2011, David joined the office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) as Deputy Secretary and Counsel for Civil Rights, where he oversaw all workforce and civil rights-related policy issues for the governor. In 2015, he was named Chief Counsel to the Governor, which is regarded as one of the most important positions within the state government. In the role, David became Gov. Cuomo’s chief advisor on all significant legal and policy decisions. [10] [11]

Human Rights Campaign

Appointment

In 2019, Alphonso David was named president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBT-interest activist organization. David’s appointment as the organization’s first African American president was heralded as a step forward for an organization that had sometimes received criticism from the left for being predominately white and insufficiently left-wing. [12]

Cuomo Investigation and Ouster

In August 2021, David’s position as HRC president came under scrutiny when a New York Attorney General’s report into sexual harassment allegations against Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) alleged that the New York Governor’s Office had violated state and federal workplace discrimination and harassment laws. David was named in the 164-page report multiple times for allegedly sending a personnel file of one Gov. Cuomo’s accusers to the Governor’s Office, after which the Office leaked the individual’s file in an alleged attempt to discredit her. The report also alleged that David was consulted on a decision to record a phone conversation between a current staffer to Gov. Cuomo and another accuser. The report also alleged that David was asked to review and sign a letter from several staffers aimed at disparaging one accuser. [13]

David denied any wrongdoing at a long and tense HRC staff meeting at which employees of the group anonymously threatened to publicly call for his resignation while the board of the organization released a statement supporting David and announcing that they had renewed his contract for five years. Following a highly-publicized leaked recording of the HRC staff meeting, however, the HRC board announced an investigation by the law firm Sidley Austin to determine if David had committed any wrongdoing. [14] [15] [16]

In early September 2021, HRC announced that it had fired David “for cause” for his role in the alleged Cuomo misconduct cover-up. David denied all allegations against him and vowed to take legal action against HRC. [17]

References

  1. Haberman, Maggie. “Alphonso David, Who Advised Cuomo, Fired as Human Rights Campaign President.” The New York Times. The New York Times, September 7, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/06/us/politics/alphonso-david-human-rights-campaign-cuomo.html. ^
  2. Dreisbach, Tom. “Cuomo Scandal Entangles Leader of Influential LGBTQ Advocacy Group.” NPR. August 6, 2021. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.npr.org/2021/08/06/1025454941/cuomo-scandal-entangles-leader-of-influential-lgbtq-advocacy-group ^
  3. Dreisbach, Tom. “Cuomo Scandal Entangles Leader of Influential LGBTQ Advocacy Group.” NPR. August 6, 2021. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.npr.org/2021/08/06/1025454941/cuomo-scandal-entangles-leader-of-influential-lgbtq-advocacy-group ^
  4. Otterman, Sharon. “Nation’s Largest L.G.B.T.Q. Advocacy Group in Turmoil Over Cuomo Ties.” New York Times. August 12, 2021. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/12/nyregion/alphonso-david-human-right-campaign-cuomo.html ^
  5. “Alphonso David.” LinkedIn Profile. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/alphonso-david-59113b2/ ^
  6. Haberman, Maggie. “Alphonso David, Who Advised Cuomo, Fired as Human Rights Campaign President.” The New York Times. The New York Times, September 7, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/06/us/politics/alphonso-david-human-rights-campaign-cuomo.html. ^
  7. “Alphonso David.” Human Rights Campaign. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.hrc.org/about/staff/alphonso-david ^
  8. “Alphonso David.” LinkedIn Profile. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/alphonso-david-59113b2/ ^
  9. “Alphonso David.” LinkedIn Profile. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/alphonso-david-59113b2/ ^
  10. “Alphonso David.” LinkedIn Profile. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/alphonso-david-59113b2/ ^
  11. Brown, Jennifer. “Alphonso David” From Immigrant to Third Most Powerful Man in New York State.” LinkedIn Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/alphonso-david-from-immigrant-third-most-powerful-man-jennifer-brown/ ^
  12. Otterman, Sharon. “Nation’s Largest L.G.B.T.Q. Advocacy Group in Turmoil Over Cuomo Ties.” New York Times. August 12, 2021. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/12/nyregion/alphonso-david-human-right-campaign-cuomo.html ^
  13. Dreisbach, Tom. “Cuomo Scandal Entangles Leader of Influential LGBTQ Advocacy Group.” NPR. August 6, 2021. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.npr.org/2021/08/06/1025454941/cuomo-scandal-entangles-leader-of-influential-lgbtq-advocacy-group ^
  14. Dreisbach, Tom. “Cuomo Scandal Entangles Leader of Influential LGBTQ Advocacy Group.” NPR. August 6, 2021. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.npr.org/2021/08/06/1025454941/cuomo-scandal-entangles-leader-of-influential-lgbtq-advocacy-group ^
  15. Yucaba, Jo. “Prominent LGBTQ leaders face increased scrutiny after Cuomo report.” NBC News. August 9, 2021. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.nbcnews.com/nbc-out/out-news/prominent-lgbtq-leaders-face-increased-scrutiny-cuomo-report-rcna1633 ^
  16. Otterman, Sharon. “Nation’s Largest L.G.B.T.Q. Advocacy Group in Turmoil Over Cuomo Ties.” New York Times. August 12, 2021. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/12/nyregion/alphonso-david-human-right-campaign-cuomo.html ^
  17. Chappell, Bill. “Human Rights Campaign Fires President Alphonso David over Report That He Helped Cuomo.” NPR. NPR, September 7, 2021. https://www.npr.org/2021/09/07/1034760697/human-rights-campaign-fired-alphonso-david-cuomo-harassment. ^
  See an error? Let us know!