Democrats flip-flop on sexual harassment scandal, now defend NC chairman

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — National and North Carolina Democrats have flipped and flopped across the board to praise North Carolina Democratic Party chairman David Parker’s choice to remain in his position.

Parker said yet again during a Thursday afternoon press conference that he would try to hang on to his job. The state party has become embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal that has already claimed the job of executive director Jay Parmley.

Parker has now agreed, following political pressure from within his own party, to hold an election for his job in early May instead of in June. He has also announced, after initially leaving the door open, that he won’t run in that election. Still, by remaining on the job Parker is defying the demands of many Democrats.

His decision flies specifically in the face of North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue, who has demanded his immediate resignation on several occasions. When Parker initially refused to resign, Perdue doubled down and criticized him publicly.

“I am reiterating my call for the chairman of the party to resign,” she said on Wednesday night. “The process laid out by the chairman in his email late today to Executive Committee members is totally unacceptable. The chairman needs to go.”

But on Thursday, after Parker announced that he would chart a more gradual glide path out of his position instead of resigning immediately, Perdue flip-flopped and praised his decision to keep working.

“I am pleased that Mr. Parker has announced that he will step aside as party chairman,” Perdue said after Parker again refused to resign immediately. “The party must move quickly to select a new chair and a new executive director. It’s time to resume our focus on the core mission of the Democratic Party: strengthening our schools, creating jobs, and ensuring more opportunity for all North Carolinians.”

A Perdue spokesman conceded to The Daily Caller that her statement Thursday was at odds with her previous statements about Parker, but didn’t offer an explanation for why she changed positions. The spokesman promised to provide TheDC with Perdue’s reason, but has not done so.

Parker’s decision also openly defied the Democratic National Committee, which weighed into the scandal for the first time on Wednesday evening after he first refused to step down. An unnamed DNC official demanded Parker’s immediate resignation, telling Politico that Parker is a “man without a party.”

“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,” the DNC official said. “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 is untenable. He needs to step aside.”

But on Thursday the national party joined Perdue in backing off. DNC executive director Patrick Gaspard, who the left-leaning Huffington Post calls President Barack Obama’s “glue man” because of his prowess as a political strategist, praised Parker for his decision to continue on as the North Carolina party chairman until early in May.

“David Parker made the right decision to resign effective immediately following the next executive committee meeting of the NCDP,” Gaspard said. “This is in the best interest of the Party. The NCDP should convene this meeting as soon as possible.”

DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse didn’t respond when TheDC asked him why Gaspard and the DNC flip-flopped on their earlier call for Parker’s immediate ouster.

Spokespersons for North Carolina Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton have not returned TheDC’s request for comment. Dalton called for Parker’s resignation this week, and then joined Perdue and the DNC in demanding his immediate departure after he refused to resign on Monday.

“I stand by my statement yesterday that Parker should resign immediately,” Dalton said on Wednesday.

It’s also unclear where the White House and President Obama’s re-election campaign stand. Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt has failed to return several requests for comment, as has White House spokesman Eric Schultz. Obama is scheduled to travel to North Carolina on Tuesday.

North Carolina Democratic consultant Brad Crone told TheDC the that party wants to move on.

“David Parker has handled this whole affair about as bad as anyone can imagine,” Crone said in an email. “He has resigned and the party will transition, the key thing for the party is to move forward and focus on the upcoming convention and elections.”

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