Reported by MARY MARGARET OLOHAN, SOCIAL ISSUES REPORTER | August 09, 2021
- TIME’S UP co-founder Roberta Kaplan has resigned after an investigation into Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo found her implicated in helping discredit Cuomo’s accusers.
- “I therefore have reluctantly come to the conclusion that an active law practice is no longer compatible with serving on the Board at Time’s Up at this time and I hereby resign,” said Kaplan, who is representing Cuomo secretary Melissa DeRosa in the attorney general’s inquiry.
- A report on the investigation released Tuesday said that both Kaplan and TIME’S UP co-founder Tina Tchen helped Cuomo’s team craft an op-ed discrediting accuser Lindsey Boylan.
- The letter was part of larger efforts by Cuomo and his aides to discredit the governor’s accusers, according to the report, in which the Cuomo administration not only sought help from Kaplan but also from Human Rights Campaign co-founder Alphonso David and CNN anchor Chris Cuomo.
TIME’S UP co-founder Roberta Kaplan has resigned after an investigation into Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo found her implicated in helping discredit Cuomo’s accusers.
“Robbie Kaplan, board co-chair, has stepped down from the board,” TIME’S UP said in a press release Monday. “We and she agree that is the right and appropriate thing to do.”
“We hold ourselves accountable,” the TIME’S UP statement continued. “The events of the last week have made it clear that our process should be evaluated and we intend to do just that. We need more transparency about our vision of change-making, and we need a more inclusive process to engage the broader survivor community, many of whom have spent years doing the noble work of fighting for women.”
Kaplan also submitted a letter Monday announcing her resignation from TIME’S UP, a prominent non-profit established at the height of the #MeToo movement, The New York Times reported. The TIME’S UP co-founder said her work as an attorney prevented her from openly answering questions about her dealings with both Cuomo and his secretary Melissa DeRosa, who resigned late Sunday night.
A report on the investigation released Tuesday said that both Kaplan and TIME’S UP co-founder Tina Tchen helped Cuomo’s team craft an op-ed discrediting accuser Lindsey Boylan. The op-ed “denied the legitimacy of Ms. Boylan’s allegations, impugned her credibility, and attacked her claims as politically motivated,” according to the New York attorney general’s report.
The investigation released Tuesday found that the governor had “sexually harassed a number of State employees through unwelcome and unwanted touching, as well as by making numerous offensive and sexually suggestive comments” and that this conduct “was part of a pattern of behavior that extended to his interactions with others outside of State government.”
The letter was part of larger efforts by Cuomo and his aides to discredit the governor’s accusers, according to the report, in which the Cuomo administration not only sought help from Kaplan but also from Human Rights Campaign co-founder Alphonso David and CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, the governor’s brother.
Tchen has vigorously denied involvement in discrediting any Cuomo accusers.
Boylan originally accused Cuomo of sexual harassment in an early December tweet thread. She later shared details of her allegations in a Medium post, describing Cuomo’s behavior and workplace as riddled with “pervasive harassment,” and accusing him of kissing her on the lips without her consent.
After she came forward with her allegations in December, Cuomo “and a group of advisors worked on a draft letter or op-ed” which attempted to discredit Boylan by tying her, among other items, to supporters of former President Donald Trump.
“The various drafts of this letter included complaints against Ms. Boylan that were part of the Confidential Files,” the report said. “The drafts also discussed alleged interactions between Ms. Boylan and male colleagues other than the Governor.”
Cuomo asked DeRosa to send a draft of the letter to Kaplan, who is an attorney for Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP, the report said. Kaplan also represents E. Jean Carroll, the journalist who accused Trump of sexual assault, as well as Trump’s niece, Mary Trump.
Kaplan shared the letter with Tchen, according to the report.
“According to Ms. DeRosa, Ms. Kaplan read the letter to the head of the advocacy group Times Up, and both of them allegedly suggested that, without the statements about Ms. Boylan’s interactions with male colleagues, the letter was fine,” the report said.
Cuomo’s advisers could not find factual support for parts of the letter and suggested it was an “overreaction,” the report said, but DeRosa told the governor that Kaplan and the Tchen reportedly thought the letter was “okay with some changes.”
Tchen serves as president and CEO of both TIME’S UP and the TIME’S UP Foundation, though TIME’S UP reportedly does not have control over the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund operations.
The TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, which has committed over $10 million to support #MeToo allegations in the workplace, told Biden accuser Tara Reade in February 2020 that its charitable status would be put at risk if it financially supported her because Joe Biden was the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. TIME’S UP strongly backed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser Christine Ford throughout the justice’s contentious confirmation hearings in September 2018.