North Carolina Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue admitted late Tuesday evening that she has known about the allegations of sexual harassment within her state’s Democratic Party for at least several months.
“My team first heard of the personnel matter at the State Party late last year,” Perdue said in a statement. “They promptly relayed these rumors to the party officials responsible for handling personnel matters — the Chairman and the party’s legal counsel, who were already aware of the issue.”
According to local news outlet WRAL, Perdue spokesman Marc Farinella added that Perdue was made aware of the nature of the allegations back then as well.
“The governor was told that a party employee was alleging harassment by the executive director and that the executive director was categorically denying the allegation,” Farinella said. “She was also told that the chairman and legal counsel had launched a process to address the issue in an appropriate manner consistent with applicable law.”
“The action she took was to make sure this matter was in the hands of the people responsible for dealing with personnel issues of this nature and to make sure they had a process in place to try to find the truth (remember this was a dispute) and reach a resolution,” Farinella added. “No one knows what actually transpired between the two individuals. There were only accusations and denials but few known facts.”
Farinella also said the governor “was not aware of the terms of the settlement.”
Perdue’s admission came mere hours after she called for her state party chairman David Parker to resign over the scandal. Before that, Perdue had told a local reporter pressing her on the sexual harassment issue to “get over it,” while dismissing the case as just a “personnel matter.”
State GOP spokesman Rob Lockwood suggested earlier on Tuesday that this sex scandal, and Perdue’s potential involvement in the cover-up, may have been part of the reason she decided against running for a second term as governor.
“Governor Perdue’s ‘get over it’ moment suggests that she doesn’t believe that there was any wrongdoing in the ever-evolving scandal,” Lockwood said in a statement. “In the video, The News & Observer’s John Frank asks, ‘If it was so serious, why didn’t you do anything about it in December when you learned about it?’”
“As is the case with every single scandal involving Perdue, we have no idea what she knew or when she knew anything,” Lockwood continued. “If she had prior knowledge, was this one of the reasons why she chose not to run again?”
North Carolina Democratic Party executive director Jay Parmley resigned Sunday after reports surfaced that he had allegedly sexually harassed low-level communications staffer Adriadn Ortega. TheDC was the first to report on emails between high-ranking Democratic officials that referred to the allegations of sexual harassment, and that the party agreed to a financial settlement with Ortega before having both him and Parmley sign non-disclosure agreements to keep the scandal quiet.
Since Parmley’s resignation, several other high-ranking Democrats in North Carolina, including Perdue, have also called for party chairman David Parker’s reignation. Democratic gubernatorial candidates Bob Etheridge and Walter Dalton, the state’s current lieutenant governor, have called for it, as have U.S. Democratic Rep. Larry Kissell and the Charlotte Observer’s editorial board.
In the emails TheDC first published, Democratic statehouse candidate Watt Jones said this scandal could spell political disaster for President Barack Obama and Democrats heading into this election year. Jones was arguing with Parker about the scandal and said the party could be “doomed” if the story got out in the press.
“If this hits the media, the Democratic Party, our candidates, and our credibility are doomed in this election,” Jones wrote to Parker.
President Obama’s re-election team considers North Carolina an important swing state, and the Democratic National Convention will take place in Charlotte this August.
Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt has not responded to any of The Daily Caller’s requests for comment on this sex scandal, nor has Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse.