Fashion designer Kenneth Cole announced he would be stepping down as the chairman of AIDS research charity amfAR after serving on the board for over 30 years and acting as the chairman for the past 14 years.
In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, Cole said, “I have proudly served on the board of amfAR for more than 30 years, and as its Chairman for the last 14. During that time, we’ve raised hundreds of millions of dollars for groundbreaking research and public advocacy campaigns that continue to save lives across the globe.”
He continued, “With my support, the amfAR board has adopted a number of governance reforms that will ensure that the organization can continue to grow and make a meaningful impact. One of these is instituting term limits for Board members which is why I, along with 4 of my colleagues, have stepped down from the Board. In this interim, I will continue to serve as an Honorary Chairman and be part of the process for selecting a new and committed Chairman.”
Cole concluded, “Though I am stepping aside, I am not stepping away from this fight. I will continue in my role as an International Good Will Ambassador on behalf of UNAIDS, and as Chairman of the End AIDS Coalition.”
The news of Cole’s resignation comes a few months after reports surfaced that he allegedly was involved in an arrangement made by disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein to use amfAR auction proceeds to pay off a business deal.
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Shortly before the first stories broke exposing Weinstein’s alleged sexual assault and harassment of a number of actresses, suspicious activity between Cole and Weinstein was suspected and reported.
According to reports, Weinstein attempted to resolve a financial obligation to the American Repertory Theater in Massachusetts by hosting a charity auction in Cannes with amfAR and split the proceeds (estimated to be around $1.2 million) between ART and amFAR, which Cole was aware of.
In November, the New York Times reported that Cole agreed to Weinstein’s auction proposal as $306,669 was ultimately raised for amfAR. He said he was not aware the transaction would be part of an underlying business deal.
Then Cole came under fire once Weinstein’s sexual assault allegations broke when he asked amfAR board members to sign a non-disclosure agreement to prevent them from speaking about Weinstein, and in return, the movie mogul would make a $1 million donation to the organization.
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When PEOPLE sat down with the designer and his family last year, Cole brought up the importance of getting his daughters, Amanda, Catie and Emily 29 involved in amfAR. “I have tried to teach them to find substance in everything that they do,” he said of raising three daughters. “And they have the commitment to social justice too.”
“My dad has taught us to make doing good part of everyday life,” Amanda, a social impact strategist at her father’s company, told us. “And also to look at what should be not what is and to never be limited by you know the way things are done if you believe things should be done differently.”