Tech Firms, Feminist Icons Back Liberal Groups Whose Leaders Helped Cuomo Smear Accuser

Valerie Jarrett, Alyssa Milano are on the board of Human Rights Campaign

Governor Andrew Cuomo attends 2016 Human Rights Campaign New York Gala Dinner (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
August 6, 2021

Some of the country's best-known corporations, celebrities, and feminist icons support the civil rights groups implicated in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D., N.Y.) efforts to smear a woman who accused him of sexual abuse.

None of the backers of the Human Rights Campaign or Time's Up, the two groups linked to the scheme to help Cuomo, have so far cut ties with the organizations. A report from New York attorney general Letitia James said that officials from both organizations advised Cuomo's aides as they sought to discredit Lindsey Boylan, a former Cuomo staffer who accused him of sexual harassment in December 2020.

Apple, Amazon, Google, Coca-Cola, and other major American companies are corporate sponsors for the Human Rights Campaign. Time's Up's board is made up of several well-known activists and Hollywood celebrities, including feminist icon Gloria Steinem and billionaire media mogul Oprah Winfrey. Valerie Jarrett, a longtime adviser to the Obama family, is also on the board, as is Alyssa Milano, the actress who helped push unverified sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Both the Human Rights Campaign and Time's Up have come under fire from progressives in the wake of the Cuomo report. James, the attorney general, said Cuomo made unwanted advances and inappropriate sexual remarks to at least 11 women. James said that Cuomo's aides led a campaign of "retaliation" against some of the women.

Alphonso David, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, one of the country's biggest LGBT advocacy groups, gave Cuomo's advisers a copy of Boylan's personnel file he obtained when they worked together in Cuomo's office in 2018. David also allegedly took part in a discussion to secretly record a conversation between a former Cuomo staffer and another woman who accused Cuomo of sexual harassment.

According to the attorney general's report, Roberta Kaplan and Tina Tchen, the cofounders of Time's Up, advised Cuomo's team regarding an op-ed the governor wrote to discredit Boylan, who had called Cuomo "one of the biggest abusers of all time." A top aide to Cuomo said that Kaplan and Tchen said they approved of Cuomo's missive, save for sections that discussed Boylan's relationship with other men, according to the attorney general's report.

David has faced the most pressure of any of the activists who helped Cuomo to resign.

Staffers at the Human Rights Campaign reportedly urged David to resign or be fired during a conference call on Wednesday. The organization's board of directors appears to be standing behind him, at least for the time being. David signed a five-year contract renewal with the organization on Wednesday.

In addition to tech giants like Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, the Human Rights Campaign's biggest corporate backers include American Airlines, Pfizer, Target, and defense contractors Raytheon and Northrop Grumman.

Neither the Human Rights Campaign nor Time's Up responded to requests for comment.