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Suit against David Parker and Democratic Party dismissed

A defamation suit brought against former state Democratic Chairman David Parker and the state Democratic Party has been dismissed.

The suit had been brought by Adriadn Ortega, a former Democratic Party staffer, in June 2012, who claimed he had been defamed by public comments regarding his allegations that he had been sexually harassed. Superior Court Judge Howard Manning dismissed Ortega's defamation claims against all defendants on June 5 and give Ortega 30 days to appeal. Instead, Ortega's counsel filed a voluntary notice of dismissal on July 2. The dismissal was filed "without prejudice" which means that Ortega an re-filed the suit within a year.

The dismissal is the latest development in case that drew negative national attention to the state Democratic Party at a time when North Carolina was a battleground state.

NC Democratic Party searching for new ED

The North Carolina Democratic Party is advertising for a new executive director.

State Democratic chairman Randy Voller said the party has received about 30 applications from around the country to fill the post held by Tammy Brunner, who was not asked to stay. Monday was the last day for applications.

Brunner was brought on as interim party executive director last June when Jay Parmley resigned amid allegations from a fellow staffer that he had engaged in sexual harassment – allegations that he denied.

Voller said a party committee – made up of leading Democratic figures - has been selected to choose a new party executive director. Voller said he is working as interim executive director $1 until a permanent executive director can be found.

Personnel file: Robinson leaves Democratic Party, more expected

UPDATED: Walton Robinson, the spokesman for the N.C. Democratic Party, announced his resignation this week.

His statement sent Wednesday offered no explanation for his immediate departure after 15 months on the job. In an email Friday, Robinson said he is "leaving to pursue other professional opportunities. That's all." 

Executive Director Tammy Brunner said Friday that other staff reductions are expected, as is typical "in an election year such as this." Asked if the party's struggling financial situation affected the decision, Brunner said "as always finances play a role in the reduction of employees."

Morning Roundup: Gary Johnson makes his case for president

A quick glance at Gary Johnson during his visit Thursday to Duke University was enough to realize the Libertarian candidate for president is no Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.

The former two-term governor of New Mexico strolled into a conference room at the Sanford School of Public Policy wearing blue jeans, a navy blazer and a T-shirt with a peace sign. The nearest thing to Secret Service was campus police. Read the full story here.

More political headlines:

--Fracking opponents keep up efforts to block drilling in North Carolina.

Former Dem Party exec director wins unemployment benefits

Jay Parmley, who resigned as executive director of the N.C. Democratic Party in April after a staffer accused him of sexual harassment, is entitled to unemployment benefits, an appeals referee for the state Employment Security Commission has ruled.

Parmley’s resignation was forced, which amounted to a discharge, and was “solely due to political reasons” and not for misconduct or poor job performance, referee Mia Bass ruled Monday.

N.C. Democratic Party names interim leader to replace Jay Parmley

The North Carolina Democratic Party has hired someone within its ranks to oversee party operations temporarily following the resignation of its executive director in the wake of sexual harassment allegations, AP reports.

The party says Tammy Brunner is the interim executive director of the party. She most recently was the party's director of operations. She previously served as executive director of the Wake County Democrats and as a worker in Erskine Bowles' U.S. Senate campaigns.

A party spokesman said Brunner began a few weeks ago. It's unclear when a permanent director will be named. Brunner assumed the post a month after Jay Parmley resigned from his job. Documents show a former party headquarters employee accused Parmley of harassment and being wrongly fired when he spoke up about it. Parmley denied any harassment.

Former staffer considers lawsuit against N.C. Democratic Party

An attorney for a former state Democratic Party staffer is considering a lawsuit against the party and its controversial chairman as the fallout continues from an alleged sexual harassment scandal.

Kieran Shanahan, a high-profile Raleigh attorney, sent a letter to Chairman David Parker on Tuesday asking him to preserve all records related to Adriadn Ortega's employment and complaints of sexual harassment from former Executive Director Jay Parmley. The notice is often a precursor to a lawsuit. 

"Sometimes someone thinks certain information hurts them and they begin to destroy it," said Shanahan in an interview Wednesday, explaining the letter.

Shanahan said he anticipates filing a legal action contending that Parker made defamatory comments about Ortega and the party violated a confidentiality and nondisparagement agreement as part of a financial settlement in which the party paid Ortega roughly $10,000 to end a federal discrimination complaint about sexual harassment. 

Democratic Party says it used secret legal fund to settle harassment claims

The N.C. Democratic Party made a $9,135 transfer on March 19 to its secretive legal fund as part of a partial financial settlement with a former staffer who alleged he was sexually harassed, new documents indicate.

John Wallace, the party's attorney, confirms that the legal defense fund -- never acknowledged until the controversy exploded at Democratic headquarters in April-- is the source of the payment, according to a letter sent Friday to the state Board of Elections.

Answering a complaint filed by the conservative Civitas Institute about the financial settlement, Wallace wrote that the party "made a transfer to the NCDP Legal Fund from which the primary obligation arising from the settlement was paid." Wallace further writes that two other transfers were made from the party's state account to cover a "related tax obligation" and "certain expenses associated with benefit obligations."


Sen. Don Vaughan announces bid for Democratic Party chairman

State Sen. Don Vaughan became the first Democrat to make a bid for state party chairman. In an email sent to party activists Thursday, the Greensboro attorney said "it's time for a change in Raleigh."

The current chairman, David Parker, plans to step aside later this month after a sexual harassment scandal roiled the party, forcing the quick exit of Executive Director Jay Parmley and raising questions about a secret settlement agreement Parker authorized with a former staffer.

"Now more than ever we need to keep our eye on the ball and get to work," Vaughan wrote in the email. (Read full text below.)

Jon Stewart: North Carolina has become is the Democrat's South Carolina

In a segment called "Tarred Heels," The Daily Show's Jon Stewart ridiculed North Carolina Democrats on Thursday for their various sex scandals.

He starts with John Edwards and moves to the sexual harassment controversy at the state Democratic Party. ("On the bright side, no love child.") His mashup of David Parker's notorious rambling press conference is clever as he notes Jay Parmley's "Seinfeld defense." (He's a close talker.) The kicker: "Congratulations North Carolina, you have become the Democrat's South Carolina." Ouch.

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