Democratic harassment settlement gets a little clearer

Lawyers for the Democratic Party sent a letter to the state board of elections explaining how a high-profile sexual harassment settlement was settled.

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Mark Binker

A lingering question from this year's sexual harassment scandal at North Carolina Democratic Party headquarters was partially answered this year.

Jay Parmley was forced to resign as executive director when accusations that he sexually harassed a male staffer came to light. Party chairman David Parker will be replaced this coming weekend after anger at how he handled the scandal. 

Party officials said they had a settlement with the young staffer who brought the harassment allegations. However, it has never been clear from public documents how that settlement was paid or how much money was involved. 

A letter that party lawyer John Wallace sent the State Board of Elections Friday partially clears up that mystery. Wallace was writing in response to a formal complaint filed by Francis DeLuca of the Civitas Institute.

"Without disclosure of any term of the agreement, however, please be advised that the non-federal account of the North Carolina Democratic Party (which account contains no funds from the Political Parties Financing Fund) made a transfer to the NCDP Legal Fund from which the primary obligation arising from the settlement was paid," Wallace wrote. 

The "legal fund" is not subject to public reporting requirements.

When the Democratic Party's first quarter finance reports came out last week, I asked if one particular line item was a payment in the Parmley case. He said it was not. 

"The NCDP does maintain a legal fund in accordance with the guidance provided by the Advisory Opinion issued by Gary Bartlett, Executive Director on December 10, 2010. Pursuant to that opinion, activity in the account is not required to be reported to the State Board of Elections as with other accounts. However, I will disclose that the deposits to the account from its inception in 2011, until today, total less than $11K and its disbursements total approximately $10K," Wallace wrote to me at the time. 

That would seem to indicate the bulk of the payment (excluding taxes and insurance payments) was about $10,000.

One lingering question: when did the transfer from the NCDP account to its legal fund happen? That should show up on public records but it's not clear when it did. 

Gary Bartlett, director of the board of elections, says his staff has the same question and is following up. 

Update: Wallace was able to help me with this. There was a $9,135.00 transfer on March 19 from the DEC account listed on the party's 2012 first quarter reports. That appears to be the public record of the transaction. 


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