The N.C. Democratic Party's dirty laundry over leadership of the state party and an alleged payoff to silence sexual harassment allegations is getting national buzz too.
A story about it by Nick Wing appeared in today's Huffington Post . The title, "David Parker, North Carolina Democratic Party Chair, Expected to Resign Amid Controversy." The story noted, as did ours this morning, that "Parker had previously sounded defiant, but Gov. Bev Perdue (D) on Tuesday capped off a chorus of Democratic voices that have come forward this week to express their concern that Parker's continued leadership is a distraction for the party."
Parker may indeed be planning to step aside today (if he hasn't already by the time this is posted), but he was still obstinately clinging to the job Tuesday when some Democratic leaders - Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, State Treasurer Janet Cowell, Superintendent June Atkinson, Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin and State Auditor Beth Wood - imposed a noon Tuesday deadline for him to resign. He had issued a statement saying he wouldn't step down and has defended his actions - all of which publicly remain unclear.
The allegations about a cover up at the state party surfaced Friday in internal emails obtained by The News & Observer. The emails included questions from a member of the state’s executive committee about a financial settlement and nondisclosure agreement with a former staffer who left the party in November after raising concerns about being sexually harassed by a senior staff member. The emails did not identify the staffer nor discuss the actions that constituted harassment.
After the media got wind of the incident, executive Director Jay Parmley resigned Sunday but denied doing anything wrong. Parker said he didn't have grounds to fire Parmley for cause. He said “leadership calls for resisting the expedient tendencies ... to throw others under the bus.”There's been no official confirmation of the sexual harassment charges or payoff - or what role Parker may have played in it. But questions are swirling about whether party rules give Parker the authority to craft such a deal or use party money.
The deal allegedly was crafted without the knowledge of the party's executive council.Allegations of a cover-up are troubling. Yet in the midst of the fallout from that a potentially more important allegation is being lost - that sexual harassment charges weren't dealt with in a forthright manner. Sexual harassment is illegal in the workplace and deserve to addressed accordingly, not swept under the rug by throwing money at it.
Even if Parker steps down, and he should, state Democrats should get to the bottom of what happened.