UPDATED: Marcel Groen, PA Democratic Party Chairman, Resigns

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Marcel Groen

Marcel Groen, chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, resigned Feb. 2 at the request of Gov. Tom Wolf.

Groen faced criticism last week following a column in The Philadelphia Inquirer that argued Groen gave “mixed messages” on his opinion on sexual harassment allegations against politicians in his party. The most prominent example involves state Sen. Daylin Leach, considering the Pennsylvania Democratic Party didn’t voice a stance one way or the other when the news broke.

“If he was inappropriate, that’s for the people to decide — not for me,” Groen told the Inquirer.


In response to the column, Groen’s comments seem to disregard the alleged faults of Leach, who has remained under a low profile and is still keen of running for Rep. Pat Meehan’s seat — who was also accused of inappropriate sexual behavior by a young female aide.

Groen’s resignation took immediate effect.

“I accept full responsibility for comments attributed to me in an article printed several days ago in The Philadelphia Inquirer,” Groen wrote in a statement. “The Governor’s staff informed me that he no longer wants me to serve as Chairman of the Party. While I have done no wrong and disagree with the Governor’s assessment, I do not wish to be a distraction to a Party that has to rectify gerrymandered maps and elect strong and civically responsible candidates throughout Pennsylvania.

“I came to this Country by boat, when I was only ten years old,” he continued. “I spoke no English and was raised by parents who endured the Holocaust, and continued to suffer from the effects of tyranny and hate the remainder of their lives. That formed my convictions and my values. I have always believed in the strength of our country and the values of our institutions to fight that hate and instead work to our best inclinations. In this time of division, I feel more strongly than ever that united fronts will serve our greater good in the legislative and social battles to come.”

When asked further by the Jewish Exponent, Groen replied via email, “I stand by my comments.”

Sinceré Harris, executive director of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, acknowledged Groen’s distinguished service to the party.

“We look forward to working with Democratic Committee members to ensure a smooth transition as we move toward November working to elect Governor Wolf, Senator Casey, and Democrats across the state at all levels,” she wrote.

Bill Wanger, president of the Republican Jewish Coalition’s local chapter, was surprised and disappointed by Groen’s resignation.

“The whole issue that he is being blamed for is something [that] is indicative today of Democrats turning on themselves,” he said. “Looking [from] the other side, I can say I thought he did a good job, and I thought he was treated unfairly.”

Although they “disagree on virtually every issue of the day,” the two are friends and colleagues — they work in the same office at Fox Rothschild. (Groen actually works on the left side of the building, Wanger on the right, he laughed.)

Wanger believes Groen got caught in the “wave” of allegations against politicians, while noting Groen is among others — like Leach, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former Sen. Al Franken — who are part of “the Jewish wing of the Democratic Party” that “is descending.”

“It’s like the leftist ideology is handed down from Mount Sinai,” he alluded. “It demands compliance with every one of its rules. And if you disobey, there’s a severe judgment.”
From a lawyer’s approach, Wanger thought Groen was considering due process and a presumption of innocence.

“I agree, and most people agree that sexual abuse and assault is real … but what’s happened is in the case of people like Daylin Leach and Pat Meehan, these are men who may have done childish things, but it certainly doesn’t make them predators. Every time you treat them like they’re on the same level as predators and terrible people, it just diminishes the real harm that victims suffer.

“What did Marcel do?” Wanger continued. “He didn’t declare somebody guilty without hearing more about it. He was giving them due process, presumption of innocence — constitutional stuff.”

rkurland@jewishexponent.com; 215-832-0737

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