Tina Tchen, the head of anti-sexual harassment campaign group Time’s Up, has resigned over its ties to scandal-hit New York governor Andrew Cuomo. Ms Tchen, a lawyer and the former chief of staff for Michelle Obama, reportedly offered advice to Mr Cuomo as he battled to keep his job.
The high-profile politician resigned on 10 August, after an inquiry found he sexually harassed 11 women.
“My position has become a painful and divisive focal point,” Ms Tchen said. Monifa Bandele, whose previous roles include stints at prominent non-profits, has been named interim CEO of Time’s Up. Ms Tchen is not the first major figure from Time’s Up to have resigned over a connection with the US politician.
Roberta Kaplan, the lawyer who was co-chair of its board, also resigned on 9 August after a report found she had reviewed a draft of an unpublished op-ed letter aimed at attacking the character of Lindsey Boylan, a former aide to Mr Cuomo who was the first to publicly accuse him of sexual harassment. News reports in the US have said both Ms Kaplan and Ms Tchen had reviewed the letter.
Ms Tchen became head of Time’s Up – founded during the #MeToo movement by Hollywood women to fight sexual harassment – in October 2019. Oprah Winfrey, Shonda Rhimes and Reese Witherspoon were among those who set the group up in 2018, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal the year before.
“Now is the time for Time’s Up to evolve and move forward as there is so much more work to do for women,” Ms Tchen said after her resignation.
“It is clear that I am not the leader who can accomplish that in this moment. I am especially aware that my position at the helm of Time’s Up has become a painful and divisive focal point, where those very women and other activists who should be working together to fight for change are instead battling each other in harmful ways.
“Therefore, it is time for me to resign and continue to work for change in other ways, and to let Time’s Up engage in the thoughtful and meaningful process I know will occur to move forward.”
Time’s Up said it was “grateful for her hard work and impact”, adding: “Accepting her resignation today is a demonstration of accountability and will allow our organisation to move forward.”
President Joe Biden had been among fellow Democrats urging Mr Cuomo to quit. Women have accused Mr Cuomo of inappropriately touching or groping them, and kissing them without consent. As he announced his resignation, Mr Cuomo continued to deny the allegations but said he wanted to “deeply, deeply” apologise to any women who may have been offended by his actions.