DNC downplays sexual harassment, HIV infecting scandal while blasting lobbyist-politician relationships in NC

Matthew Boyle | Investigative Reporter

Democratic National Committee communications director Brad Woodhouse is trying to make North Carolinians believe that, as far as alleged indiscretions go, it’s worse for a lobbyist to date a state politician’s staffers than it is for a party official to sexually harass his own staffer and infect others with HIV.

News broke late last week that two staffers for North Carolina Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis “admitted having romantic relationships with lobbyists.”

According to local news reports, Democrats in the state are calling for ethics investigations related to the incidents — even though local politicians and experts have praised Tillis for acting quickly to address the matter.

After the News and Observer reported the story on Friday, however, Woodhouse – the official spokesman for the national Democratic Party – tried to make it appear as though the news was somehow more damaging than a sexual harassment scandal that has rocked North Carolina Democrats for weeks.

The North Carolina Democratic Party’s executive director, Jay Parmley, resigned two days after The Daily Caller first reported he had allegedly sexually harassed one of his male staffers, Adriadn Ortega, made a financial settlement with him and directed him to sign a non-disclosure agreement to keep the scandal quiet.

According to a letter Ortega wrote to Parmley that later surfaced, Ortega alleges that Parmley “frequently gave me unwanted shoulder rubs despite my verbal objections” and that Parmley “often solicited my opinion on his clothes.”

“He would point both hands to his crotch area and ask me how his crotch looked in those pants that day,” Ortega wrote, adding that Parmley “would frequently pretend  to punch my crotch and make a popping noise with his mouth.”

After that letter surfaced, Parmley’s ex-girlfriend from Oklahoma – where he once served as the executive director and chairman of that state’s Democratic Party – reached out to The Daily Caller to tell the story of how he had allegedly infected her with HIV.

Burgin, a 29-year-old Oklahoman, revealed that Parmley’s lawyer offered her health coverage, paid for by the Democratic National Committee, to manage her illness. She ultimately declined that offer, fearing it would constitute insurance fraud. Parmley, she said, abandoned her a few months later.

Somehow, Woodhouse apparently believes that scandal is nothing compared to the state’s two Republican staffers having romantic relationships with lobbyists.

On Friday, Woodhouse tried to engage nonpartisan political analyst Stu Rothenberg on Twitter about the state’s GOP news — alleging that it would be a “disaster” for Republicans and that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would be hurt by it.

Rothenberg shot back at Woodhouse, saying that it was ridiculous for Woodhouse to play up the lobbyist situation in light of the Democrats’ own scandal in the state. “Sorry Brad, not even close,” Rothenberg said in one tweet.

“Gov Bev, NC Dem Party e.d. & chair mess, jobs numbers etc. MUCH worse than GOP problems in NC. Not even in the same ballpark,” Rothenberg said in a follow-up tweet to Woodhouse.

With the help of Connecticut Democratic Sen. Dick Blumenthal’s communications director, Nu Wexler, Woodhouse took a stab at TheDC’s coverage of the NCDP sex scandal, too.

When Woodhouse first tweeted the news of state GOP issue, Wexler replied via Twitter: “The Daily Caller is on it.”

Woodhouse retweeted Wexler’s political comment, adding to it: “Yeah right!”

Woodhouse wouldn’t answer when TheDC asked him to explain the connection he was apparently trying to make between the scandal that rocked his party in the state and the news about the GOP staffers. Woodhouse also hasn’t answered when consistently asked when DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was first informed that Parmley allegedly sexually harassed Ortega last year. She could have been told about it months before the scandal broke because Gov. Bev Perdue has admitted she was aware of the sexual harassment allegations as early as December of last year.

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