We’ve had some fun with the scandal in the North Carolina Democratic Party leadership so far, but the latest update from the Daily Caller takes a turn for the tragic. The man at the center of the scandal, former executive director Jay Parmley, had been accused of sexual harassment against a former male employee, which the party settled with a sealed agreement. However, Parmley has also been accused by his former girlfriend of infecting her with HIV, and offering health insurance through the party afterward:
Rebecca Burgin, a long-time former girlfriend of former North Carolina Democratic Party executive director Jay Parmley, told The Daily Caller that she believes Parmley infected her with HIV.
Parmley resigned on April 15 amid sexual harassment allegations from a former young male staffer.
Burgin, a 29-year-old Oklahoman, has shared her story with TheDC, including the revelation 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.
On April 13, TheDC first exposed allegations, leveled in December by former North Carolina Democratic Party communications staffer Adriadn Ortega, that Parmley showed him a picture of a penis, gave him unwanted shoulder rubs and made apparent sexual advances toward him. Ortega also alleged that Parmley discussed with him in detail his past sexual activity, including “solicit[ing] sex from gay websites.”
Parmley’s ex-girlfriend Rebecca Burgin told TheDC that Parmley forever changed her life by making her HIV-positive. She’s worried, she said, that Parmley may have done to someone else what he did to her.
Be sure to read it all. When she approached Parmley about her HIV-positive status, he told her he wanted out of the relationship. Later, she hired an attorney who got the NC Democratic Party to offer her what was essentially family coverage on Parmley’s employment status. However, Burgin eventually wondered whether that would be legal at all, since the relationship was over and the two no longer shared a household, and instead opted to pay for COBRA coverage herself.
This makes the scandal much more grim, and it couldn’t come at a worse time for North Carolina Democrats — and Barack Obama. He’s due to speak in Chapel Hill today, but don’t expect him to discuss gay rights issues, even though Democrats are pushing against Amendment One:
Two weeks from now, North Carolina will hold a public referendum on what could become one of the toughest anti-gay measures in the country: a far-reaching proposal to amend the state constitution to ban civil unions and domestic partnerships. But President Obama is not expected to touch the subject when he appears in Chapel Hill on Tuesday — even though it is roiling the electorate there.
Instead, Obama will talk about college loans, his aides said, kicking off a two-day, three-state tour designed to energize the youth vote. His delicate sidestep of Amendment One, a ballot initiative to be decided May 8 that would recognize marriage between a man and a woman as the only legal domestic partnership in North Carolina, is seen by some as another sign that he is not fully committed to gay rights — an interpretation that could dampen the enthusiasm of the young voters he is trying to court.
“It’s a little bit of a missed opportunity,” said Josh Orol, 20, a sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a leader of a campus movement to defeat Amendment One. “I didn’t expect him to talk at length about it. I know he has come out publicly against it. But I sort of hoped he would at least name-drop a little bit. It’s disappointing.”
I guess Obama is still evolving on same-sex marriage. The tragic turn in the Parmley scandal won’t make it any easier. In the meantime, keep Rebecca Burgin in your prayers.