NC: Top Democratic staffer steps down amid claims of sexual harassment

by
April 17, 2012

BY JOHN FRANK - News Obersver

RALEIGH — The executive director of the N.C. Democratic Party resigned Sunday as questions mounted about a secret agreement to pay a former staffer to keep quiet about sexual harassment allegations.

Jay Parmley, who served less than a year at the helm of the party, denied harassing any employee and blamed right-wing political enemies for “spreading a false and misleading story.”

“Even though I have not done anything wrong, it is clear to me that I need to move on,” Parmley wrote in his resignation letter. “I refuse to be a distraction.”

But his quick departure – just two days after the matter surfaced – did little to answer questions about the settlement or quiet critics of party Chairman David Parker. A number of party activists, openly and privately, are calling for him to resign, too.

In a statement, Parker said he accepted Parmley’s resignation and defended his decision not to fire him, saying “there have not been grounds for termination for cause.”

“In this political world of rushing to judgment and the presumption of guilt, however, my legal and personal opinion has been outweighed by this having become a political distraction and issue,” said Parker, a Statesville attorney.

Watt Jones, a member of the state party’s executive committee, said Parmley made the right decision for the party. “Clearly I think there are others who should resign, too,” Jones said.

Democratic consultant Perry Woods of Raleigh agreed. “I think Jay did the right thing,” he said. “David Parker should join him.”

 

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