Thursday, June 23, 2011

GLAAD Kicks AT&T Exec Off Board

In a welcome action that will help GLAAD move on from the AT&T gaywashing scandal, Troup Coronado, the former AT&T official and former Orrin Hatch staffer, has resigned from the board of GLAAD. A statement from GLAAD notes that he "resigned voluntarily, stating that he 'wanted to do what was in the best interest of GLAAD,'" but clearly he was pressured in the wake of the scandal. The conflict of interest -- the backing of the merger with an AT&T lobbyist on the board -- was obviously enough reason to take action. In recent days it came to light that Coronado once worked for the Heritage Foundation, the conservative, antigay think tank. Coronado still sits on the board of the Equality Californa Institute, and activists are pressuring that group and others to remove him.

GLAAD announced Coronado's resignation in the first formal press release announcing the board's acceptance of Jarrett Barrios's resignation as president as well. It was the first communication from GLAAD on the controversy since Saturday, when communications director Rich Ferraro emailed media outlets that Barrios had resigned and noting that a statement would be forthcoming that night. But no statement materialized. Since then, as I reported, the board met to discuss the resignation and, according to sources, Barrios at first was trying to keep his job, even claiming he never resigned and rallying friends on the board not to accept his resignation, but ultimately decided to bring closure to this controversy.

That report appears to be backed up by an email from Barrios to the board, sent last Saturday, that is included in the GLAAD release. It seems on the surface like a resignation but never quite says "I resign," only vaguely referring to "the right course of action," without saying what that is:

“None of you have asked me to resign, and I have appreciated such confidence in me. I have been pained by the difficulties that have beset GLAAD over the last three weeks. As you know, they concern GLAAD’s endorsement of the AT&T / T-Mobile merger—and inaccurate but effective characterizations that suggest GLAAD has supported this merger because of our relationship with them as a corporate sponsor. As many of you have observed to me, this entire situation is wrought with miscommunication and assumptions. Be that as it may, I respect the function and responsibility of my position, and know this is the right course of action."

"Of utmost concern and foremost in all of our minds must be the well-being of GLAAD. The staff continues to work hard and does not deserve to work under a cloud, nor do they merit the distraction that it has become from our organization’s fine brand."
GLAAD also announced that seven board members have resigned -- Gary Bitner, Jocelyn Bramble, Kelly Dermody, Humberto Mata, Michael Nutt, James Walker and Randi Weingarten -- in addition to Coronado, bringing the total number to eight resignations from the board. The statement also makes clear that GLAAD doesn't oppose net neutrality, AT&T's position, but that it does not have a position on net neutrality "at this time."

GLAAD announced that Chief Operating Officer Mike Thompson will be Acting President.

UPDATE: This post has been corrected. Coronado is no longer on AIDS Project Los Angeles board, having left in January 2011.