Roberta Kaplan, Who Aided Cuomo, Resigns from Time’s Up
The fallout from a damaging report that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women widened on Monday when Roberta A. Kaplan, a prominent lawyer with ties to the governor, resigned from Time’s Up, the organization founded by Hollywood women to fight sexual abuse and promote gender equality.
Ms Kaplan, president of Time’s Up and co-founder of its legal defense fund, was one of many figures the report revealed involved in an effort to discredit one of Mr Cuomo’s alleged victims, and she continued legal ties with a former Cuomo aide accused of leading this effort.
“Unfortunately, recent events have made it clear that even our apparent allies in the struggle for the advancement of women can turn out to be aggressors,” Ms. Kaplan wrote in a letter submitting her resignation from the group. “We felt the raw, personal and deep pain of this betrayal.”
She said her work as a practicing lawyer meant she couldn’t openly answer questions about her involvement with Mr. Cuomo or Melissa DeRosa, the assistant governor Ms. Kaplan represented in the investigation of the Attorney General.
Ms DeRosa, who investigators said had led the effort against Ms Boylan, announced her resignation from the Cuomo administration on Sunday. She believed that the governor had no more way to stay in office and she did not want to continue to support him publicly, according to two people familiar with her thinking.
The state attorney general’s office report revealed Ms Kaplan had considered a draft derogatory opinion letter aimed at attacking the character of Lindsey Boylan, a former Cuomo aide who was the first to publicly accuse him of sexual harassment. .
The opinion letter was never published. It was part of a larger effort in which Cuomo and his aides sought advice from former administration officials, including Alphonso David, chairman of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ political lobbying organization in the country. country ; Tina Tchen, Managing Director of Time’s Up; and the governor’s brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo.
All of these figures have been criticized for their links to Mr Cuomo.
The involvement of Mr. David, who was previously the governor’s lawyer, led to calls for his resignation from the Human Rights Campaign. The organization said in a press release Monday that he had hired a law firm to determine whether Mr. David’s work on the editorial matched his mission to “fight for equality and justice for all”.
Mr David, who called on Mr Cuomo to step down, said in a report that he was not aware of any “misconduct incident” involving the 11 women in the attorney general’s report.
He said he did not sign the opinion letter regarding Ms Boylan, a claim confirmed by the report. But investigators also said Mr David had agreed to help other former staff sign the letter, an allegation he denied in his statement.
He said that although he provided the administration with an advisory note about Ms Boylan because he “was legally obliged” to do so, he was not involved in the disclosure of his personal files to the public. journalists in an attempt to undermine it.
Ms. Kaplan was subjected to a similar review given the mission of her organization. A leading lawyer who helped legalize same-sex marriage, she represented the promise of Time’s Up, founded in the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s revelations by Hollywood figures such as actress Reese Witherspoon and star producer Shonda Rhimes. . The concept was that high-level women could use their connections and influence to strengthen protections and advance gender equality.
Understanding the scandals that challenge Governor Cuomo’s leadership
But the allegations against Mr. Cuomo – an ally of the organization that has worked with them to strengthen laws in New York – have called that case into question.
On Monday morning, a group of sexual harassment and assault survivors issued an open letter to Time’s Up board, claiming the organization had betrayed its ideals. “Time’s Up has abandoned the very people it was meant to stand up for,” said the letter, which was posted on Medium. “The council continues to ignore the outcry from survivors. Time’s Up causes all survivors to fail.
In a statement, Ms. Tchen and the Time’s Up board of directors said they agreed with Ms. Kaplan that her resignation was “the right and proper thing to do.”
They also promised that the organization would take more responsibility and transparent to the community he sought to represent, although the statement did not provide details.
“We are counting on our sisters and allies not to lose sight of the larger work and to let a man’s betrayal be overshadowed in any way,” the statement said. “We are not asking for a pass. We are asking for a point of view.
Ms Kaplan was in a particularly delicate position after the report was released last Tuesday. Ms. DeRosa is represented by Ms. Kaplan’s office, and Ms. DeRosa testified during the Attorney General’s investigation that Ms. Kaplan was her lawyer. Asked by the New York Times if she had ever advised Ms DeRosa beyond the op-ed, Ms Kaplan declined to respond.
“Today is a very sad day,” Ms. Kaplan said in an email to The Times. “I will miss the time spent with this board and our fellowship so much. In the future, I hope they can stick together and continue this important work. “
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