Dome: NC Democratic Party attorney tied to harassment case

From staff reportsOctober 16, 2012 

The longtime attorney for the N.C. Democratic Party will be named as a defendant in the defamation lawsuit brought against the party and its chairman by a former staffer who claimed he was sexually harassed.

John Wallace and his law firm will be sued in their capacity as agents for the Democratic Party after attorneys for ex-employee Adriadn Ortega, reviewing extensive documents provided in the lawsuit, discovered communications between Wallace and the news media, Kieran Shanahan, an attorney for Ortega, said in court Tuesday.

An attorney for Wallace asked that a deposition subpoena for Wallace be quashed because of attorney-client privilege. But Wake Superior Court Judge Howard Manning refused, saying lawyers in a deposition could explore whether Wallace lost that protection by communicating with outside parties.

Manning also ruled in favor of Ortega’s attorneys by ordering that the written statement that party chairman David Parker read from at an April news conference must be turned over to them, and he ruled that Parker be further deposed and required to answer questions.

“Mr. Parker needs to come clean,” Manning said. “He needs to answer these questions himself.”

Shanahan told the judge he was frustrated with Parker’s feet-dragging during a recent deposition, in which attorneys interrupted at least 15 times instructing him not to answer. “It was one of the most difficult three hours I’ve ever spent,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan and his law partner, John Branch, said the other side raised objections to 53 of the 55 questions posed to Parker. Defense attorneys already have turned over more than 600 pages of records.

Ortega claims he was fired in November after he reported being sexually harassed by his supervisor, Jay Parmley, who was then the party’s executive director. Parmley denied wrongdoing but resigned.

Ortega sought a severance payment, and signed a confidential settlement. In April, word of the settlement leaked out in news media reports. Parker held a news conference to answer accusations of a cover-up, in which he defended Parmley and implied Ortega shouldn’t be believed. In June, Ortega sued for breach of settlement and defamation.

Conservative mailer in N.C.

Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group, is hitting North Carolina and nine other swing states with a $2 million direct-mail effort.

The group is calling the mail piece “Family Budget,” which highlights “the reality that American families are tightening their belts while criticizing the ‘four-year spending spree’ of the Obama administration,” according to a release.

AFP already has dropped nearly $40 million on ads this election cycle, including a swing-state bus tour that brought conservative commentator Michelle Malkin to the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh in September.

Homes in Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado, Nevada, Wisconsinand Minnesota also will be hit with the new mailer.

Forestry advocate dies

Bob Slocum, who for the past 24 years has been the force behind the North Carolina Forestry Association, died Tuesday at UNC Rex Healthcare in Raleigh. He was 62.

Since 1988, the forestry association had grown to 4,000 members. He helped pass the “Right to Practice Forestry” law in 2005 and oversaw a logger training program.

Staff writer Craig Jarvis, Austin Baird and Rob Christensen

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