January 4th, 2010
05:34 PM ET
8 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."


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. Sherry

    Perhaps the "switch" was his true intent all along.

    January 4, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  2. Big Ed

    His former staff members should be commended for standing up for their primciples. Rep. Griffith is just another opportunist, turning his back to the people who elected him. It didn't take him long to sell out.

    January 4, 2010 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  3. Marcus

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

    January 4, 2010 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  4. AZ Senior

    Well, at least his staff has integrity.

    January 4, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  5. The Weatherman

    This is just your run of the mill democrat whiners. They really work for the party not the people. The democrats are socialized for their personal and party survival. They really don't care if people suffer so long as they stay in power. Look at their voting base in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and other union states are losing population and votes in Congress. A picture says a thousand words.

    The Weatherman

    January 4, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  6. Emmanuel Goldstein

    What is Sharon Wheeler talking about? Since when is "legacy of conservative leadership" synomymous with the Democratic Party?

    January 4, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  7. cd in DC

    it's about time right minded Alabamians stood up and said what have Republicans done for us? Most of them live in public housing and live off Social Security checks yet blame government and cuss Obama.

    January 4, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  8. gt

    smart man ... dumb staff....

    January 4, 2010 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  9. Vic of New York

    I salute the staff members who bravely chose principals over convenience in resigning from Griffith's office.

    It says quite a bit about the sincerity of a politician who stiff's his constituency within a year of being elected by them in good faith.

    Parker Grifith can now join likes of Sarah Palin as representative of the "cheap-to-buy" morality of the Republican Party these days. He'll make a great Republican.

    January 4, 2010 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  10. gary davis harbor oregon

    this jerk like DICK CHENEY needs to have the president put them both over his knee ,pull there pants down and spank there fat flabby butts with a paddle ,and then make them apologize to the WORLD not just AMERICA . and have them do community service for the betterment of humanity . and never speak again.. and for the rest of the republican party you either stop saying NO to everything and help get our great nation back on track . or remove yourselves from PUBLIC OFFICE thats right public office ( for the people by the people so help you GOD . or we americans will come take you OUT .. thats right OUT I feel much better now . and happy new year to the PRESIDENT and family

    January 4, 2010 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  11. Black Viper

    Congrarulations to this brave guys. If your boss does not have any integrity or principles you showed him you had one.
    He will go down shamefully in history by next election

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

    Welcome to reality, Parker. True Dems have little respect for your selfish nonsense, and the GOPers are already lining up behind a challenger to defeat your untrustworthy "conservatism" in the primary.

    January 4, 2010 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  13. btannerski

    Good for them!

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

    Bravo to the staff. At least they have the courage to live up to their beliefs

    January 4, 2010 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  15. Tom in Alabama

    First the staff, then the voters. Bad timing, Parker. Hope you are enjoying your only term in congress.

    January 4, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  16. Dale

    Republicans are fiscally conservative... NOT!! They just spend money on different things, like tax breaks for rich and corporate welfare, unnecessary wars, and unneeded weapon systems.

    January 4, 2010 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  17. Mike Syracuse, NY

    Obviously Griffith chose principles over party going from the majority party to the minority party; while his Democratic staff did the opposite.

    January 4, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  18. mjm

    Sounds like his staff doesn't understand the word "conservative".

    Spending trillions in the first year is liberal economics and it is inconsistent with Blue Dogs and conservatives.

    "Parker Griffith has abandoned the legacy of conservative leadership," Sharon Wheeler, Griffith's chief of staff.

    On the contrary, he showed real leadership by leaving the Democratic Party which has been hijacked by the far left liberal loons who are robbing this country with their pay-to-play politics.

    January 4, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  19. dick delson

    another jerk Republican. what is wrong with these people?

    January 4, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  20. Greg

    Obviously he felt better advised by someone outside the dems machinery that indicated there was more than 52% of the conservative vote to be had as a Republican than a Democrat.

    January 4, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  21. Mark

    Switching parties seems to be the fashionable trend the past 2 years. I vote for individuals, not party affiliations.

    January 4, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  22. Just Me

    Serves him right!

    January 4, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  23. Colleen

    I hope they all resign. Unbeleivable pure political move for self interest. He must be hangin out with Leiberman

    January 4, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  24. One sane Democrat

    Congressman Parker Griffith demonstrates sanity and fiscal responsilibty among Democrats, and should be applauded for leaving the Fiscal Terrorists that are the Democratic Party of 2010.

    January 4, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  25. GI Joe

    He's an idiot that follows the religious-right-wingnuts lockstep and will pay dearly in the next election.

    I know a lot of folks in his area, and they are not happy with him at all.

    January 4, 2010 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
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