Six members of the the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Board of Directors have resigned, furthering the leadership crisis at that organization which began with letters from the now-fired ‘president,’ Jarrett Barrios, to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on behalf of corporate patron AT&T’s interests before that body. AT&T handmaiden and GLAAD board member Troup Coronado was not among those who resigned [politico link].
GLAAD board member Gary Bitner confirmed in an email to POLITICO on Wednesday that he had resigned. Five other board members — including Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers — also have submitted their resignations, according to the POLITICO source who is familiar with the matter.
In an email sent to POLITICO, Weingarten said her resignation “had nothing to do” with the AT&T/T-Mobile deal.
The six former board members submitted a joint statement to POLITICO that said they resigned from the organization’s board for “various reasons,” but declined to comment on those reasons because they say “there’s been too much unfair and false information spread about GLAAD” recently.
There may be other departures from GLAAD by week’s end:
The resignations of six prominent GLAAD board members comes as a blow to the organization and may be followed by additional departures from the gay and lesbian advocacy group. The person familiar with the resignations said about a third or half of the board may leave the organization by the end of the week.
The six GLAAD board members a source said resigned are: Bitner; Weingarten; Jocelyn Bramble, an associate at the law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf; Kelly Dermody, a partner at Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein in San Francisco; Humberto Mata, founder of nonprofit Fundación VIHDA in Ecuador; and James Walker, a commercial real estate executive.
Handmaiden Troup Coronado’s role in the AT&T-favorable letters to the FCC is laid out carefully in today’s Politico article:
Coronado, a former employee and registered lobbyist for AT&T, is said to have approached several gay rights organizations seeking support for the AT&T/T-Mobile deal. In May, he approached the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to ask representatives of those groups to sign a letter that voiced support for AT&T’s bid, leaders of those organizations told POLITICO.
National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce President Justin Nelson told POLITICO that Coronado presented his organization with draft text that other gay rights groups were also expected to sign.
It’s important to note that the promised statement from GLAAD regarding Jarrett Barrios’s departure still has not materialized.
And it seems GLAAD board members are unhappy, and leaving, because of the lack of transparency and policies regarding just this kind of conflict of interest:
In their letters of resignation, the six former board members expressed concern over the board leadership’s failure to enforce GLAAD’s conflict of interest policy regarding the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile deal, according to the person familiar with the matter.
Former Heritage Foundation employee Troup Coronado’s performance on a Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Business Council was reason enough for the organization to remove him.
Human Rights Campaign refused to support the telecom position by joining the sign-on letter, though Coronado also sat on HRC’s Business Council at the time. Coronado was later removed from the body in March 2010.
Meghan Stabler, a transgender LGBT activist, educator and Business Council member, said though Coronado’s departure was unrelated to the controversy surrounding the letter, his participation on the body was a factor.
“Each year the HRC Business Council reviews member participation and HRC Workplace Project objectives, doing so allows members to retire from the council and new members to be on-boarded as needed,” she said.