Dana Nessel Tells HRC to Keep the Money, Ditch the President Amidst Cuomo Harassment Scandal

Jason A. Michael

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a lesbian, recently announced that she would not accept any donations from the Human Rights Campaign until its president, Alphonso David, is gone from the organization. 

Nessel's announcement comes amidst an evolving story focused on David's involvement in the Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexual harassment scandal. According to a report released by New York Attorney General Lititati James, David, who had previously worked for the governor, had aided an effort to discredit one of Cuomo's accusers while at HRC. 

"I will not be accepting any campaign donations or support from @HRC unless and until there is a new president of this organization," Nessel tweeted last week.

Nessel is not alone in calling for David to resign. Several HRC staffers have also called for their boss to step down. David arranged for a staff meeting via phone last week to explain his side of the story. But his employees, who were allowed to ask questions anonymously, weren't having it. One participant even sent a recording of the meeting to HuffPost, which posted the following exchanges.

"Alphonso, we will band together and take this to the board to request your resignation," said one employee. "Are you willing to take down our organization with you?"

"I appreciate that perspective," David replied. "But I hope you can take a closer look at the report because to suggest otherwise would mean I knew what the report said I didn't know. I didn't know any of this. So you're basically asking me to resign for conduct I didn't know about."

But several others continued to ask for his resignation.

"Is the best way to protect HRC's brand for Alphonso to step down?" another staffer asked.

"Actually, I think one of the important lessons here is to highlight how harassment and discriminatory behavior hides in the darkness," said David. "And how my experience can actually be used to effect change."

For four years, David, an attorney, was a member of Cuomo's cabinet, serving as the Deputy Secretary and Counsel for Civil Rights. He also worked as the governor's chief counsel from 2015-2019. Following the release of the report, David tweeted that his old boss should go. 

"After reading the AG's devastating report that concluded Gov. Cuomo engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment, in violation of both federal and state law, he should resign," the tweet read.

Despite David's apparent involvement in the Cuomo scandal, on Aug. 4, the HRC board announced that the organization had recently extended David's contract.

"The Human Rights Campaign and Human Rights Campaign Foundation Boards have full confidence in Alphonso David as president of the organization," HRC Foundation Board chair Jodie Patterson and HRC Board of Director's chair Morgan Cox said in a joint statement. "In recognition of his extraordinary leadership during extremely challenging times, we were proud to extend his contract to stay on in his role for five more years."