When the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke in late 2017, a group of Hollywood celebrities came together to form Time’s Up with the aim to help women fight back against sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. But the organization has become mired in a series of its own scandals, the latest being the resignation of a high-ranking official who advised embattled New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).
Time’s Up got off on the wrong foot when its first president and CEO Lisa Borders resigned after just a few months on the job, following misconduct allegations against her son. Since then, the group has faced a string of embarrassments and internal scandals that have led to questions about its mission and ties to powerful Democrats, especially the Obamas.
President and CEO Tina Tchen served as an assistant to then-President Barack Obama and as chief of staff to Michelle Obama. The public relations firm that represents the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund is SKDKnickerbocker, the Democratic PR powerhouse whose former managing director, Anita Dunn, is now senior adviser to President Joe Biden.
Dunn also worked in the Obama administration, serving in the White House’s communications team.
Among the most vocal critics is actress Rose McGowan, who has repeatedly slammed Time’s Up as an arm of the Democratic establishment while also branding the group and its supporters, including her Charmed co-star Alyssa Milano, as “fakes.”
Here are five of the biggest scandals that have hit Time’s Up.
1. Time’s Up splurged big on salaries, but spent relatively little on helping alleged victims
During its founding year of 2018, the group raised an impressive $3,670,219, but spent $1,407,032 on salaries and just $312,001 on the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund for victims of sexual harassment. In addition, the group reportedly spent tens of thousands of dollars on advertising, and $940,328 on “legal” costs, with the bulk of that figure going to Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, the multinational law firm.
2. Time’s Up sided with founding donor Oprah Winfrey over Russell Simmons’ rape accusers
The group took sides against Russell Simmons’ rape accusers by declining to support the HBO Max documentary that would have explored the allegations against the music mogul. Oprah Winfrey was set to serve as executive producer of the documentary but withdrew her support after what one report stated was a possible whisper campaign against the movie.
3. Time’s Up declined to support
The organization failed to help former Congressional staffer Tara Reade, who has alleged Biden assaulted her nearly three decades ago. “I actually cried a little because I felt really betrayed,” Reade said about the group. “They never told me that their public relations was run by Anita Dunn.” Time’s Up said SKDK played “no role” in its decision regarding Reade.
4. Time’s Up Healthcare co-founder failed to report complaints of sexual harassment
Nearly one-third of Time’s Up Healthcare resigned in protest this year after it was revealed that co-founder and board member Esther Choo didn’t report complaints of sexual harassment made by a co-worker at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU).
5. Time’s Up chair resigns after advising Cuomo in sexual harassment scandal
Roberta Kaplan, who served as Time’s Up board chairwoman, stepped down from her position Monday after it was revealed she advised the administration of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on how to fight a sexual harassment allegation. Kaplan gave her approval to a letter drafted by the Cuomo administration attacking the accuser’s credibility and motives.