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Democratic activists call for NC chairman to step down

Posted April 16, 2012 5:01 p.m. EDT
Updated April 16, 2012 6:51 p.m. EDT

— Some Democratic Party activists said Monday that the state party chairman should follow the lead of the party executive director and resign following a sexual harassment scandal.

Jay Parmley, who became the top administrator of the North Carolina Democratic Party last year, stepped down Sunday amid allegations that a sex harassment complaint involving a senior party official had been covered up.

In his resignation letter, Parmley vehemently denied harassing any party worker.

"Let me be clear: I have never harassed any employee at any time at the (state party) or in any other job," he wrote.

Reports began circulating last week that a junior staffer quit working for the party last fall after being sexually harassed by a senior party official. Several party officials said they were told the party settled with the young man and that he signed a non-disclosure agreement. No financial settlement appears on the party's finance reports.

Party insiders are now pushing for state Chairman David Parker to resign as well, noting that Parker approved the non-disclosure agreement, which they say goes against the party values of openness and transparency.

"We have a responsibility to be not only beyond guilt but above suspicion," Democratic consultant Perry Woods said. "I just think how it was handled will make this story keep going, and I think, for the good of the party, the chairman should do the right thing and resign."

Woods introduced a resolution at a local party meeting Saturday night calling for Parker's resignation, but the group didn't vote on it.

The chairman of the party is an elected position, and Parker said he isn't stepping down.

"I have no plans to resign," he said in a statement.

Leaders within the party said they will investigate the events that led up to Parmley's resignation, including Parker's role in them.

A Statesville attorney who said he's successfully prosecuted harassment and discrimination cases, Parker said "there have not been grounds for termination for cause of Jay Parmley." He said he accepted his resignation because the sex harassment scandal had become a distraction.

Gov. Beverly Perdue has declined to weigh in on the party's troubles.

"This is an internal personnel matter within the Democratic Party," spokeswoman Chris Mackey said in a statement. "The governor is focused on investing in education and creating jobs for all North Carolinians.”