Sidley Austin hired to investigate HRC president following Cuomo report

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Signage is seen outside of the law firm Sidley Austin at their legal offices in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 10, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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  • HRC President Alphonso David previously served as counsel to N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo
  • David said he backs Sidley probe, which will last 30 days

Aug 9 (Reuters) - The Human Rights Campaign has hired Sidley Austin to conduct an internal investigation after a probe by the New York attorney general revealed that the group's president, Alphonso David, played a role in responding to sexual misconduct claims against Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Sidley Austin will investigate whether the actions of David, Cuomo's former counsel, "aligned with HRC's mission and values, as well as with professional and ethics standards," the HRC said in a statement Monday.

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest LGBTQ advocacy and political rights organization in the United States. The law firm's investigation will last 30 days, with Sidley due to report its findings to the boards of directors at both the HRC and the HRC Foundation.

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A Sidley Austin spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

David's name is referenced at least 36 times in the New York attorney general's report, which last week found that Cuomo broke federal and state laws by sexually harassing women who worked for him. Cuomo has denied the misconduct allegations.

David was among the individuals who saw drafts of a letter that would have pushed back against claims made by ex-Cuomo aide Lindsey Boylan against the governor, according to the report. The letter was never published.

Also on Monday, prominent litigator Roberta Kaplan resigned from her post as board chair of anti-bias and harassment group Time's Up, after the AG's investigators found Kaplan had weighed in on the proposed Boylan response letter.

In a statement released by the HRC, David said he refused to sign the letter, which attacked Boylan's credibility, and never agreed to circulate it.

"I did not sign their original letter nor any of their other letters because it runs counter to my basic principles and the work I’ve dedicated my life to," David said.

David said he had no "knowledge of any incidents of misconduct involving the 11 survivors referenced in the AG’s report and in fact learned about these allegations by reading the report."

David said he endorsed the HRC's independent review, stating "multiple inaccuracies have been circulating and therefore this definitive review is important."

Read More:

Roberta Kaplan exits Time's Up board following Cuomo report

New York Governor Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women, report finds

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David Thomas reports on the business of law, including law firm strategy, hiring, mergers and litigation. He is based out of Chicago. He can be reached at d.thomas@thomsonreuters.com and on Twitter @DaveThomas5150.