Time’s Up leader out amid revelations she helped smear Cuomo accuser
New York, New York – Time’s Up – a national organization dedicated to supporting and empowering victims of sexual misconduct – pushed its chairperson to resign on Monday in the wake of revelations that she participated in an effort to discredit a woman who has accused New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment.
Roberta Kaplan, a prominent New York lawyer who co-founded the group’s legal defense fund and chaired its board, was pushed out as part of what Time’s Up president Tina Tchen called an ongoing endeavor to "hold ourselves accountable."
"We and she agree that is the right and appropriate thing to do," Tchen said in a statement of Kaplan’s resignation.
Kaplan did not respond to calls or emails, and a representative who picked up the phone at her Manhattan law office declined to comment.
Kaplan has extensive political ties to Cuomo, and state Attorney General Letitia James’ investigators concluded in their report released last week that, in late 2020, Kaplan helped draft a letter questioning the motives and credibility of Lindsey Boylan, a former economic adviser to the governor who is one of 11 women accusing him of sexual harassment.
According to communications included in James’ report, Kaplan gave the thumbs-up to circulating the letter publicly as long as a few adjustments were made.
However, the letter was never widely disseminated after other Cuomo allies involved in drafting it said it could work against the governor’s interest.
Other Cuomo allies face fallout
Kaplan isn’t the only Cuomo ally facing repercussions for being involved in the letter-drafting process.
The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ rights advocacy group, announced on Monday that it has launched an internal investigation into Alphonso David, its president, for his role in the anti-Boylan letter.
David, Cuomo’s former counsel, declined to put his name on the letter, but agreed to seek out others who would be willing to do so after being asked by people close to the governor, James’ investigators found.
Morgan Cox and Jodie Patterson, who chair HRC’s board, called the AG’s findings about David "very concerning" and said an outside law firm will conduct the internal probe.
"Over the past several days, HRC’s employees, supporters, board members and partners have raised questions about the appropriateness of Alphonso David’s actions and whether they align with HRC’s decades’ long mission of fighting for equality and justice for all," Patterson and Cox said in a joint statement.
Cuomo refuses to resign
Fallout from the attorney general’s report has also rocked the governor’s inner circle.
On Sunday, Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo’s top aide, resigned from her post, saying that recent weeks have been "emotionally and mentally trying" for her.
James’ office found DeRosa spearheaded the effort to smear Boylan. The investigators also wrote in their report that DeRosa was a major force in helping foster a "toxic" work environment for young female staffers in Cuomo’s office.
Meantime, several district attorney offices across the state have launched criminal investigations into Cuomo in the wake of the release of the attorney general report, while the state assembly goes ahead with impeachment proceedings.
Despite his mounting legal woes, Cuomo has refused to resign and vehemently denies sexually harassing anyone.
Since James’ report dropped, the governor has mostly been holed up at the executive mansion in Albany.
Cuomo’s spokesperson, Rich Azzopardi, said last week that the governor will cooperate in the state assembly’s impeachment probe, which could wrap up as early as this month.
Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO / Pacific Press Agency, IMAGO / Everett Collection