January 4th, 2010
05:34 PM ET
5 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. Albert K. L.A., CA

    Good jobs are hard to find but these people are saying they did not have a good job. The job they signed-up for was to fight the good fight of "conservative leadership," with people in mind but Parker Griffith has abandoned them and has gone the way of the Radical Reactionary Republican Party for the Rich with corporations in mind.

    January 4, 2010 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  2. Nelson Colorado Springs Co.

    These Eleven staff members did the right thing by tendered their resignation. It would be hard to support Parker Griffith and the Republican agenda if you are a Democrat. Now there should be a rule or a new law when a congressman or senator change party while in office should give his seat because he or she was elected by that party Republican or Democrat. Parker Griffith should give pay back the that was spent on getting him elected.

    January 4, 2010 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  3. GI Joe

    He's from a high-tech area, folks. Those folks don't like his flip-flopping.

    January 4, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  4. No Incumbents 2010

    Griffiff's staff has more principles than he does. Does Griffiff have the scruples to return the contributions he received from Democrats when he was a Democrat? Of course not. That would require integrity. The GOP ran vicious attack ads against Griffiff when he was a Democrat. Are we now to believe that the GOP was not telling the truth in these ads?

    January 4, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  5. Mike, Palo Alto, CA

    How great to see some people of principle who are willing to act on principle. Kudos to them. We need more public servants like them.

    January 4, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  6. T'SAH from Virginia

    HE – meaning Griffith – will LOSE in the upcoming election. I am glad his STAFF abandoned him also because they worked very hard to get him elected and he actually TURNED on them............LOSER!!!

    January 4, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  7. David Morrow

    As a long time resident of the Fifth District of Alabama, who moved to Fla for work reasons, I appreciate the actions and sentiments of the former staff of Rep Griffin. I followed the career of Bud Cramer and had the pleasure of voting for him many times. I thought-following the campaign from a distance-that Parker-Griffinwould follow in his ways. How fooled was I!

    January 4, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  8. max

    If anyone switches parties, there should be a re-election period. To switch sides is to essentially purger yourself politically. Griffith and Lieberman lied to the voters and supporters by campaigning as democrats, then switching when the tide turned. Remove them from office and start over, that is what they deserve ... so do the voters ...

    January 4, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  9. Dave

    Not big news. if he's switching parties then he should staff with people from the party he's switching to anyway. Whoop-de-do article.

    January 4, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  10. Rick McDaniel

    The people elected a representative......not a political party. If they didn't do that, then the people are at fault. It matters not, what political party, he belongs to.....he is the same man.

    January 4, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  11. phoenix86

    Fringe left staffers quitting. Nothing new here.

    January 4, 2010 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  12. Sheryl

    Goodie, Goodie!!!! He will not be reelected because the Repubs don't want him either!!!

    January 4, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  13. strong

    Glad they're leaving, hope they all do.

    Politicians (ie. Griffith here) are such low-life. Me, me, me.

    January 4, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  14. warren smith

    how can this man run as a dem. and change when he get in office
    he is a liar and do know how to stand for conviction

    January 4, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  15. Todd

    The staff has more backbone and more conscience than the boss. Not so unusual. They will find work with the majority party, no doubt.

    January 4, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  16. Dave

    Adios. Staff members are pretty much a dime a dozen. They'll be able to pick up the skills required to run the Slurpee machine quickly. Then again, this public announcement is probably a way to ball-lap the Dem leadership to neutralize Griffith's move.

    January 4, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  17. johnrj08

    Griffith should do quite well as a Republican, He'll fit right in with that party, which bases all of its positions on how much it will help them get re-elected. Has little to do with voting your conscience or doing what's right. Remarks about the bail-outs being "liberal spending" is a bunch of malarkey and another indication of how many Republicans refuse to look at the facts, or simply fail to understand. No bail-out would have resulted in another Great Depression. Getting the economy back on track and stimulating growth will help erase a lot of the debt we incurred in stopping the economic free-fall of 2008. The Bush administration realized this, too. Anyway, the fact that Griffith's staff is resigning is indication that the people who know him best have lost confidence in him. Now, they're probably asking themselves why they trusted him in the first place.

    January 4, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  18. D Jones

    Very good for them! If they don't believe in the conservative leanings of the Congressman, then let them go work for some Pelosi-esque moonbat liberal.

    January 4, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  19. jp

    Let's see if their Democratic pals can get them a JOB now in this 10% unemployment environment they created. Good Luck!

    January 4, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  20. dude palin

    Another Bozo the Clown !!

    January 4, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  21. Bne

    If it smells like a rat and walks like a rat than it is a rat and not a duck as it's not an appropriate fit in this situation. Staff should have known better.. at least they should have smelt something in the air, they should have noticed a suspicious walk hmmm you would think?

    January 4, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  22. Critical Thinker

    The staffers are the ones who get things done in Congress. This guy's up the creek without a paddle!

    January 4, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  23. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    How can any Democrat make any wistful comment at all about "abandoning the legacy of conservative leadership?" As much as the neo-cons have repudiated that legacy, Democrats, the party of tax-and-spend, the party of the financial rape of the American taxpayer, never even had it. The only thing Democrats are interested in "conserving" are the constituents they've bought and paid for using the outrageous taxes they're always trying to raise on people who actually work for a living.

    January 4, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  24. Dave, the Truthteller

    He is just the first. The Left Wing nutjobs in the Dem party are driving the moderates and few remaining conservatives out of the party.

    January 4, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  25. Texas Annie *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

    I've been saying for several years that we need to watch out for new entrants into the political arena. I suspect some Republicans who have no real verifiable history or track record will enter races in Democratic areas as Democrats for the sole purpose of getting elected. At that point, they will then show their true (turn-coat) colors and switch parties. They may only be a one term representative, but that could be one term too many.
    Pay attention folks- there are some really sneaky snakes out there.

    January 4, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
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