January 4th, 2010
05:34 PM ET
4 years ago

Parker Griffith's staff resigns

Most of Rep. Parker Griffith's staff resigned Monday.
Most of Rep. Parker Griffith's staff resigned Monday.

Washington (CNN) – Most of Rep. Parker Griffith's staff resigned Monday morning, nearly two weeks after the former Blue Dog Democrat announced his intention to join the Republican Party.

Eleven staff members tendered their resignation, including Griffith's chief of staff, legislative director and press secretary. Griffith's campaign consulting team announced in December that they were ending their relationship with the first-term congressman.

"Parker Griffith has abandoned the legacy of conservative leadership," Sharon Wheeler, Griffith's chief of staff said in a statement released by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

"We believe he made a mistake – a well-intentioned but misguided mistake that is not in the interest of the great people of North Alabama who elected him a year ago as a Democrat," Wheeler said in a statement, adding that staffers "cannot, in good conscience, continue working for him."

Griffith was first elected in 2008 with 52 percent of the vote in the conservative 5th district of Alabama. John McCain beat Barack Obama by 23 points in the district that cycle.

Full statement after the jump:

For immediate release: Monday, January 4, 2010

Representative Parker Griffith’s Staff Resigns

~Say Independent-Minded Democrats Succeed for North Alabama~

WASHINGTON, D. C. – Nearly every staff member of Representative Parker Griffith’s office tendered their resignation this morning in response to his recent decision to change party membership. This included the Chief of Staff, along with the entire legislative and communications team. In departing Griffith’s office, the staff characterized his party-switch as a “mistake” and emphasized that this district has “benefited” from conservative Democratic leadership. Many of the staff members had worked for Griffith since before he arrived in Washington including several who worked on his campaign for Congress in 2008.

"Alabama's Fifth District has deserved and has benefited from great Democratic conservative leadership since Reconstruction. And until now they had it,” Chief of Staff Sharon Wheeler said. “But Parker Griffith has abandoned the legacy of conservative leadership provided by Bud Cramer, Ronnie Flippo, Bob Jones, Howell Heflin, Jim Allen, Lister Hill, John Sparkman, Big Jim Folsom, and so many more.”

Joining Wheeler in departing from Griffith’s staff were: Megan Swearingen (Legislative Director), Brian Greer (Senior Legislative Assistant), Will Crain (Legislative Assistant), Sean Magers (Press Secretary), Arinze Ifekauche (Legislative Correspondent), Chase Chesser (Legislative Correspondent), Mary Lou Hughston (Staff Assistant), Dr. Anjali Shah Kastorf (Congressional Fellow), Leslee Oden (Congressional Fellow), and Andrew Menefee (Intern). The staff members waited until they could return to Washington to resign. Last month, Griffith’s campaign consulting team announced they had terminated their relationship with Griffith.

Wheeler continued, “I appreciate Congressman Griffith's being a very dedicated congressman. But we believe he made a mistake – a well-intentioned but misguided mistake that is not in the interest of the great people of North Alabama who elected him a year ago as a Democrat. As his staff, we wish him only the best, and we all remain committed to the citizens of the Tennessee Valley. But we cannot, in good conscience, continue working for him. It is with deep sadness that we leave our work for the Fifth District. But because we are unwavering in our own principles, we have no choice but to move on. We do not know what the future holds, but we are taking a leap of faith with the belief we will soon find ourselves in the employment of principled public officials."

ADDITIONAL STATEMENTS

Sean Magers, Press Secretary –

"It has been a privilege working for a Blue Dog for the past year, and I look forward to continuing to promote the progress already achieved in twelve short months by the Democratic Party. Working for my home Congressional District has afforded me a true passion to work for the results that are generated by a thoughtful Democratic process, and I look forward to taking that work ethic with me where ever I go.”

Will Crain, Legislative Assistant –

"It has been a true honor serving the people of my home district and state, but I cannot in good faith follow Dr. Griffith into the Republican Party. I took a job with this office to carry on the conservative, Democratic policies of Bud Cramer, who like many of his predecessors helped lead North Alabama to periods of remarkable economic development and prosperity. While I will always be proud of the work our staff accomplished with Dr. Griffith, I look forward to bringing the bridge-building and fiscally responsible policies of the Blue Dogs we worked hard to advance to other career opportunities. These are the principles that have traditionally benefited the Tennessee Valley and that I believe will lead our nation back to an era of economic growth and security."

Brian Greer, Senior Legislative Assistant –

Working as a member of the Honorable Congressman Parker Griffith's staff has been an exciting and educational journey. However, my personal and professional values do not permit me to advance the Republican agenda. Although Congressman Griffith’s views have changed, mine have remained aligned with the Democratic Party. I believe we have accomplished a great deal in the 111th Congress. Much work remains to be done, and I plan to continue working for Democrats in a different capacity, specifically focusing on helping Americans, strengthening our economy, and keeping our population safe from threats both foreign and domestic. Thank you to all my friends and colleagues for support during this transition.


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soundoff (297 Responses)
  1. Lori in St Pete

    Good for them! It's so nice when those who work for elected officials have integrity. I'll donate to the campaign of any or all of his soon to be former staffers should they choose to run for his seat!

    January 4, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  2. Yahbut

    It would seem that Mr Griffith's staff has done him a favor by resigning. I don't see how he could continue to work with them any more than they say that they can work with him.
    I wonder which one of them will oppose him in the upcoming election?

    January 4, 2010 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  3. Huh?

    Believe she meant he had abandoned the legacy of liberal leadership.

    January 4, 2010 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  4. Ken in NC

    He switches parties, his staff will no longer work for him, Republicans don't want him. WOW. I would say he is a man between a rock and a hard place. The rock is falling fst toward his head and he is standing on a hard place. I think this man will be forever changed when his rock hits him while he stands on his hard place. LOL

    January 4, 2010 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  5. Mickey

    Good for them...the Republican/Conservative movement in the country is dead. May this be a warning to other GOP members...the fearmongering, racism, and hatred will not be tolerated.

    January 4, 2010 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  6. chelle

    Wow – people with ethics in politics...see it can happen!

    January 4, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  7. Dave

    Well looks like things are even now.
    Dems got specter, repubs got griffith.

    I wonder if everyone will stand by what they said about specter and say the same thing about griffith or if it'll be one of those "Along party lines" things.

    January 4, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  8. Great move Parker.....

    one less vote for Pelosi and Reid......and a step closer to overturning Obamacare in November......and stopping the march to socialism....

    January 4, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  9. MB Seatle

    Job security over integrity.

    January 4, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Evidently it is more than just "an intention" to switch to the Republican Party, it's more like a done deal. I applaud the staff members' resignation. It is a line drawn in the ever-shifting political sand that if the person you've sworn loyalty to based on his ideologies suddenly departs from said ideologies you too should say your fare-the-wells.

    January 4, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  11. Nathan Prophet

    Good for them. If more people had their courage, Washington politicians would soon start representing those who elected them and not special interests. Well done; I applaud your courageous action.

    January 4, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  12. justin

    i question the timing of all this crap which in my point of view , is intended to make the democratic party seem and look out of touch. just look at the series of events during obama admin.. 1st. you had rep. judy gregg resigning w/ some lame excuse that he couldn't support the prez policies. 2. the ground hog of the bush admin. aka r.wing attack dog, dick cheney who's talking out both sides of his mouth, w/ all the failures of his and bushes admin.... which got us here in the 1st. place. now griffin...... blue dogs are nothing more than repub's parading around as democrats. period.................... all i can say to these repub. perpetrators is "BULL-PUDDIN"

    January 4, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  13. A. Goodwin

    If Parker Griffith wants to join with the Republican's so be it – he acted more like a Repub. than a Democrat anyway. Sounds like he had a really great staff – who will continue to do great things. One has to wonder if there were other things that swayed Griffith to switch.

    January 4, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  14. T.G.

    Let the exodus begins.

    January 4, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  15. Gale

    I think this show the Democrats way of thinking. Vote for the party, no matter what his platform, not the man.

    January 4, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  16. Jen

    Another Lieberman... only looking out for himself not those he was elected to represent. He probably thinks the country is going to throw out the Democrats with the mid term election so he is getting on the Republican band wagon now. My hat is off to his staffers, resigning took a great deal of courage.

    January 4, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  17. j

    Sounds like a plan.

    January 4, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  18. Theyli

    I think if a politician jumps ship after he has been elected, that he needs to be forced to run again. There needs to be an open election so that the people can decide whether they want him in office. Otherwise, it is deceitful to those who put him in office.

    January 4, 2010 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  19. Republican Moles

    I wonder how many of the so-called Blue Dog Democrats are really Republican moles? Griffith has made a huge miscalculation – he used Obama's popularity to get his Senate seat...and he will lose it to a true Democrat in 2010. The Republicans are giddy with the confidence that they will control both the house and senate this year...I predict that the Dems will gain an ever greater majority.

    God is on the side of the poor...and He is watching the affairs of this country..and He doesn't like what He sees: the Republicans are dividing this country with hate and lies. They have a HUGE surprise coming in 2010!

    January 4, 2010 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  20. Dodie

    Parker Griffith has made no mistake. He has decided to be a part of ‘Project for the New American Century’ organization in Washington. He just wants to join the “Old Boys Club” and make billions of dollars off the American taxpayers.

    Thank you Griffith staff for having the integrity to resign. At least someone has integrity in Washington!

    January 4, 2010 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  21. robwestchester

    Good. Serves him right.

    January 4, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  22. Bill

    As a voter in the north Alabama district I can not vote for Parker Griffith again. He has not displayed good faith to those of us who put him there.
    I'm sorry most of his staff has had to resign. But he certainly is not deserving of their support.

    January 4, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  23. Debra

    Good Luck and Kudos for sticking to your beliefs the congressman will hopefully be recalled on reneging on his constituents.

    January 4, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  24. trying to be reasonable in West Virginia

    I think we need a CENTRIST party. Such a party could be rid of the ideologues and true believers of both far right and far left. I don't know north Alabama politics, but I suspect there's some possibility that Griffith will be defeated by some wingnut lunatic in the GOP primary. The GOP has demonstrated that centrists have no place in it. Will Griffith be their next victim? I also suspect that his staffers wish there were a Centrist Party as well. They'd still have jobs.

    January 4, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  25. Marcus

    BROVO!
    It's about time that, in a time of recession, there are still people who have principals and stand by them.

    January 4, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
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