David Parker urged reporters to fully vet the facts of the alleged sexual harassment scandal that has so far resulted in the resignation of Jay Parmley, the organization’s now-former executive director. Parmley was accused in late 2011 of sexual harassment, including unwanted touching, by former communications staffer Adriadn Ortega.
Despite the calls for Parker’s exit — made from as high as the office of North Carolina Democratic Governor Bev Perdue — the party chairman insists that he’s sticking it out for noble reasons.
“I’m not going to do things because it’s politically expedient,” Parker explained. “I’ve never done that in my life. I’m not going to do that now.”
Politico reported that national level Democrats are eager to push Parker aside:
“David Parker is a man without a party,” said a senior national party official of the North Carolina chair. “He’s operating out of a hotel in Raleigh outside of the party structure and without the support of staff, the national party or any significant party official or elected official. He’s isolated and that isolation will only increase until he makes the decision that is not in his best interest but in the best interest of the party. The status quo in untenable. He needs to step aside.”
Despite that claim, Parker won’t budge.
“I chose to do what was right, rather than what was easy,” he said during the presser. “I’m standing here today because of that decision.”
Parker did announce that he will not be seeking re-election to the post, and wants that election moved up from June to May.
He also maintained that Parmley is hardly the type to harass someone.
“If you’ve heard something bad about Jay Parmley, frankly I’d be shocked,” claimed Parker. Parmley is prone to getting close to people in his interpersonal contact, Parker said, but not in a sexual manner. “It’s not sexual. It’s not an advance,” he said.
“He’s a friendly guy,” Parker said. “That’s who the man is.”
Parker compared Parmley’s physical behavior to that of former Massachusetts Gov Mitt Romney, who grabbed Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s shoulder during a GOP primary debate.
“It’s like I saw pictures last night of Mitt Romney in a debate with Rick Perry and during the debate he reaches over, he grabs Rick Perry by the shoulder, pats him on the shoulder, and squeezes [his shoulder],” said Parker. “That’s just who Mitt Romney is. Does that make anything wrong with him? No, it doesn’t. It’s not sexual. It’s not an advance.
Parker addressed specifically the allegation by Ortega that Parmley had “reached back several times from the driver’s seat and caressed my leg” during a September 6, 2011 car ride.
Parker said that there were several people in the vehicle and that Ortega had fallen asleep, leading Parmley to “whack” his leg to wake him up. “That’s it,” insisted Parker.
Shortly after Parker’s presser, Ortega tweeted a comment about statutes of limitation. Ortega — who signed a confidentiality agreement about this scandal in order to obtain his financial settlement — has remained silent as this ordeal has unfolded.
“Statute of limitations, 180 days .. just reminiscing from my law firm internship days,” Ortega tweeted.
Pressure from Democrats for Parker’s resignation is mounting in part due to North Carolina’s central role in the 2012 election: President Obama’s re-election campaign has chosen Charlotte, N.C. as the site of this year’s Democratic National Convention.
Additionally, the president is set be in North Carolina next week.