North Carolina Democratic Party chair ousted from Charlotte DNC convention committee

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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The scandal-plagued chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party has been suspended from the host committee of President Barack Obama’s 2012 convention in Charlotte, according to a tweet from a reporter with the Raleigh-based News & Observer newspaper.

The move excises an embarrassment for the Obama re-election campaign, which sees the Tarheel State as a must-win in November. The president won North Carolina by just three-tenths of one percent in 2008, leaving no cushion to offset subsequent political damage caused by high unemployment and debt numbers.

News & Observer reporter John Frank tweeted that party chairman David Parker has been “temporarily suspended” from the 88-member panel, which consists of local politicians and business leaders. The committee is helping fund and organize the convention.

Parker’s role as chairman has also effectively ended, although a transition is being delayed until the state party’s May 8 convention.

The scandal began late last year when party employee Adriadn Ortega alleged that executive director Jay Parmley had sexually harassed him. The party gave Ortega a settlement payment. Parmley quit his job on Sunday.

The scandal and payment were secret until last week when The Daily Caller first exposed a trail of emails documenting the chain of events.

That exposure prompted several calls for Parker’s removal, including specific demands from North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue.

But Perdue and other Democrats reversed themselves Thursday, urging Parker to delay his departure until next month.

His delayed resignation will ensure that Parker’s deputy, Gwen Wilkins, does not take his place. She is a leader in the African-American community, whose support is vital for Obama.

Parker’s departure in May will allow party members to choose his replacement after a lengthier and more formal vetting process.

The selection of that replacement, however, may prompt further infighting between the state’s political leaders and Obama’s campaign, which has a bigger in-state budget and payroll than the state party. State party officials want a local Democrat to take the slot, but Obama’s team want to ensure the party helps the president win the state’s electoral votes in November.

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