TIME’S UP Founders Helped Cuomo Discredit Accuser Lindsey Boylan, Investigation Finds

Mary Margaret Olohan |Social Issues Reporter

  • TIME’S UP Now called on Cuomo Tuesday to resign after an investigation found him guilty of sexual harassment.
  • That same investigation revealed that TIME’S UP co-founders Roberta Kaplan and Tina Tchen reportedly helped Cuomo’s team craft an op-ed discrediting accuser Lindsey Boylan.
  • The op-ed, which Cuomo officials ultimately decided not to publish, “denied the legitimacy of Ms. Boylan’s allegations, impugned her credibility, and attacked her claims as politically motivated,” according to a report released by the New York attorney general’s office. 

TIME’S UP Now called on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Tuesday to resign after an investigation found him guilty of sexual harassment. That same investigation reported that TIME’S UP co-founders Roberta Kaplan and Tina Tchen helped Cuomo’s team craft an op-ed discrediting accuser Lindsey Boylan, according to interviews with Cuomo’s staff.

The Washington Free Beacon first reported the TIME’S UP founders’ alleged involvement with the op-ed, which Cuomo officials quarreled about internally before ultimately deciding not to publish. 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.

TIME’S UP is a prominent non profit established at the height of the #MeToo movement and the parent organization of the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund. Tchen denied Wednesday evening that she in any way attempted to discredit Boylan.

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 top aide Melissa DeRosa to send a draft of the letter to Kaplan, who is an attorney at the firm 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 TIME’S UP co-founder Tina 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.”

“I have never given advice to the Governor or his team,” Tchen said in a Wednesday evening statement. “I had a phone call with Robbie Kaplan about a letter she said was being sent by his staffers during which I gave the same advice I give to everyone else: No survivor should be attacked and the truth should be told.”

“I’m furious that the Governor’s office used me and TIME’S UP as a justification for their defense,” she continued. “TIME’S UP is an organization that has always centered survivors while holding those committing harm accountable. Any characterization of us to the contrary is simply not true.”

TIME’S UP reportedly no longer has control over the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund operations, according to the legal fund’s website.

Tchen serves as president and CEO of both TIME’S UP and the TIME’S UP Foundation, “overseeing the organizations’ strategic plans to change culture, companies, and laws in order to make work safe, fair, and dignified for women of all kinds,” according to the organization’s website.

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 Biden was the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.

Time’s Up did support Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser Christine Ford throughout the justice’s contentious confirmation hearings in September 2018.

This post has been update to reflect a statement from TIME’S UP. 


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