The president of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) has been placed on leave as the conservative group investigates sexual assault allegations against him and other leaders in the nonprofit.
YAL’s board released a statement saying it was investigating the matter and calling on anyone who had evidence regarding the claims to come forward to report it.
The organization, which works to elect conservative and libertarian leaders across the country, said that President Cliff Maloney and vice president of grassroots, Justin Greiss, had been placed on leave until the investigation was complete.
“YAL has outside legal counsel and HR professionals investigating all matters, and to ensure fairness is involved, it is important we allow this process to run its course,” board chairman Jeff Frazee wrote in a statement.
“YAL will address these issues head-on and begin the process of healing and rebuilding trust, safety and accountability. We’re uniformly committed to doing what is right and necessary,” he continued.
Dozens of accounts of assault by those affiliated with the organization, including Maloney and Greiss, were shared in the past week under the Twitter hashtag #YALtoo. Many said they brought their concerns to the attention of leadership, who failed to follow up and continued to endorse candidates accused of assault. Others said that demeaning comments about women were frequently made in the workplace and concerns about them ignored.
One former YAL staffer said that Maloney asked her to bring him food to get her alone with him before using his status to try to pressure her into sexual relations. “He lectured me about loyalty to him, and that people who aren‘t loyal to him ‘don’t stick around long’ in the organization before asking me to come to bed with him,” Twitter user Taylor Marie wrote.
“To be clear, I didn’t. I actually gave him a chance, in tears, to take back what he said and apologize. He used that opportunity to make sexually demeaning comments about me instead,” she continued.
On Saturday, Maloney posted a statement to Twitter denying the allegations against him.
“Allegations against me are 100% false. Serious accusations and misconduct will always be addressed at YAL,” he wrote. “Character assassinations against a team of liberty advocates who work around the clock for our cause must stop.”
YAL spokeswoman Emma Meshell Phillips wrote on Twitter of the “shock and disgust” she felt reading the accounts.
“I’ve spent a lot of time over my 1.5 years in my role traveling with Cliff, helping him raise money, and promoting for his leadership at YAL in the media. To think there were victims who witnessed me do so, while I was ignorant to his behavior, is devastating. I am so sorry,” Phillips wrote.
She noted that Maloney had been placed on leave. “It should not have taken a social media movement for these changes to be made. The ‘proper channels’ have failed. And an ongoing discussion is being had at YAL about how we can make sure that never happens again.”
Rep. Justin Amash, L-Mich., wrote on Twitter that he was “devastated and saddened by the organization’s deficient response to the allegations.”
Before the announcement that Maloney and Greiss would be placed on leave, he wrote: “People deserve real answers about how allegations will be handled and investigated, not simply generic assurances that accusations of misconduct are taken seriously. This isn’t about making assumptions or prejudging guilt; it’s about identifying the specific steps being taken.”