AFTRA Investigation Finds No Misconduct by Board Member Over SAGWatch Site

The union's outside counsel determines that David Browde did not violate non-disparagement or confidentiality rules and is not an owner or editor of the site.

An argument about an aggregator has turned out to be a tempest in an empty teapot.

The anonymously run SAGWatch website, which aggregates news about SAG, AFTRA and other Hollywood unions, has long come under fire by members of SAG’s MembershipFirst faction, the now all but defunct group associated with former guild president Alan Rosenberg. They criticize the site for its pro-merger and anti-MembershipFirst stance.

In October, as The Hollywood Reporter reported, anonymous claims surfaced that AFTRA board member David Browde runs the website and that by so doing was in violation of an agreement between SAG and AFTRA that prohibits leaders of each union from disparaging the other union. Browde told THR then that the accusation was false. AFTRA said it would investigate.

On Wednesday, AFTRA released a statement that its outside counsel had concluded an investigation and "found no evidence suggesting any infractions (of the non-disparagement agreement and the union's own confidentiality rules) took place."

In addition, sources close to AFTRA said the investigation determined that Browde is not owner or editor of SAGWatch.

The AFTRA statement also rebuked the anonymous complainants: "This situation is a reminder that while allegations of misconduct are to be taken seriously, public accusations which call into question the credibility of an individual before a proper investigation can be conducted risk compromising a member’s right to due process and are to be avoided."

Details of the investigation will be presented to the AFTRA National Board at its next meeting in late January.