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North Carolina Democratic Party executive director resigns in wake of same-sex sexual harassment allegations

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Matthew Boyle
Investigative Reporter

North Carolina Democratic Party executive director Jay Parmley resigned Sunday in the wake of allegations that he sexually harassed one of his former communications staffers.

Last week The Daily Caller uncovered emails that seemed to show that an unidentified state Democratic Party official, later revealed to be Parmley, sexually harassed communications staffer Adriadn Ortega.

The emails indicated that the Democratic Party made a financial settlement with Ortega, and that both Ortega and Parmley signed non-disclosure agreements to keep the incident quiet.

Local news outlets have reported that Ortega was fired after he made the sexual-harassment allegations, and that the state party has not been transparent about his firing since it happened.

In his resignation letter, Parmley denied the sexual harassment allegations and blamed TheDC for tying the alleged incident to him. 

“As you know last Friday, Tucker Carlson’s right-wing blog Daily Caller and Art Pope’s Civitas Institute began spreading a false and misleading story about a supposed incident of harassment at the NCDP,” Parmley wrote.

The emails TheDC first reported on were between state Democratic chairman David Parker and Democratic statehouse candidate Watt Jones. They expressed concern that the sex scandal could sink the state party and its candidates in the upcoming election.

“If this hits the media, the Democratic Party, our candidates, and our credibility are doomed in this election,” Jones wrote to Parker.

Parmley’s resignation comes in the wake of Democratic activists in North Carolina pushing for accountability and transparency in the midst of this scandal. Many party activists demanded Parmley’s resignation, as well as Parker’s resignation or firing. Many more state Democratic activists have called on the party to be transparent about the financial settlement and allegations.

It’s unclear at this time whether Parker will resign as well.

The Raleigh News and Observer reported that Democratic activists circulated resolutions demanding a change in party leadership at party conventions in Wake and Durham counties over the weekend.

One resolution demanded that the Democratic Party must be “not only beyond guilt but above suspicion, and event a hint or perception of a cover-up is damaging to the party’s credibility.”

Lieutenant Gov. Walter Dalton, who is running for governor, has called for the resignations or firings of those responsible for any sexual harassment.

“We cannot tolerate sexual harassment in the workplace,” Dalton said at a local Democratic Party meeting over the weekend.

“If there’s any truth to the allegations, somebody should resign or be fired immediately. We won’t tolerate that.”

Other Democratic gubernatorial candidates, including former U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge and state Rep. Bill Faison, have remained quiet on the matter.

Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue has not commented on the sexual harassment allegations, and state Democratic Party spokesman Walton Robinson has not responded to several requests from TheDC for comment.

Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse has also not responded to several requests for comment from TheDC either. It remains unclear whether the national party or its chairwoman, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, fear that this growing scandal could harm Democrats nationally, including President Obama.

President Obama’s campaign team views North Carolina as an important state in the his bid for re-election. Charlotte is the site of this year’s Democratic National Convention.

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See the emails that The Daily Caller uncovered:

North Carolina Democrats’ Emails