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. Angie in PA

    Good let the loser join the losing party!!

    January 4, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  2. cjl

    How so? He has embraced the legacy of conservatism by joining the actual party of conservatism. Crybabies.

    January 4, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  3. fsi

    I wonder how much money he took to switch parties?

    January 4, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  4. James B

    Did he think that since he would switch parties that his staff would. A party is ones choice and their set of opinions. As an Independant I fear that he may be trading his values and opinion just for an election. Sounds like he couldn't win as a DEM, but will the GOP field a young more conservitive person to run against him ? If so then he traded his set a values for nothing

    January 4, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  5. Bessy

    Dumb man !! Smart staff !!!

    January 4, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  6. JMikey54

    It is a brave move to quit a job in this economy. But from what i can tell this guy is not going to be reelected anyway, so they would probably be out of a job anyway. I would only say that if there are other democrats who are really conservatives maybe they should switch over to another party also. We do not need them pretending to be democrats.

    January 4, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  7. Kevin

    I love everyone talking about the principles of his staff. What if Parker is standing up for his principles? What if he doesn't believe in what his former party stood for?

    On a different stroke, did his staff believe in Parker or did his staff believe in the democratic party. Apparently it is the latter or they would still be supporting Parker.

    This is just one more example of how polarized our two party system is becoming. A dem staffer is a dem staffer. They don't care who they represent as long as a "D" is next to his name.

    January 4, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  8. Seawife

    I applaude his staff! Very smart people indeed.

    January 4, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  9. Moderate Democrat

    Let's be honest, he was NEVER a democrat. He has voted against america's best interests CONSISTANTLY, ie, like a republican.

    It is good to see that his staff has morals, and abandoned him, who obviously has none. Nobody with morals can be a republican. They only TALK about morals, but never ACT with them.

    January 4, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  10. Sam in NC

    I thought people chose political party based on their values? You know, Republicans lean right, Dems, lean left, and Independents are more in the middle or have values that can fall on either side depending on the issue. How do you run for office in one party, then switch to another? The party values have not changed, even if the administration has. You can still be a Democrat and vote against the far left, or be a Republican and vote against the far right. I believe the term is Moderate.

    How could you ever vote for this guy again? He could flop back the other way at a moments notice, or whenever it is convenient for him to do so.

    January 4, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  11. sumday

    please his staff was paid off and promised new jobs with other dem. This is just another way for the Dem. party to try and make him look bad by saying his whole staff left him. Think about it, if they supported him before (the way he was voting) then why wouldn't they support him now? You want me to believe that if he stayed Dem but sided Rep. his staff would stay but only because he changed sides (not voting preference) they are quitting don't be so gullible people.

    January 4, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  12. common border

    It now make sense while the poor will always remain and the rich gets richer. They can switch parties to always get rich preach all types of nonsense. I keep wondering why we keep listening to these idiots so called politicians. Do you think they have us in mind? Never but their pockets. Shame to you congressman.

    January 4, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  13. Grant

    Looks like another one has found that Mexican guy "jesus". Better to join the Republicans who care more about enforcing some 2000 year old code of ethics than they do defending and advancing their country.

    January 4, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  14. Great campaigner, effective politician, lousy president

    Where were all you dim hypocrites when Arlen Spector did the same thing? When he jumped ship you were all about his "integrity"......

    January 4, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  15. michael

    There is a greater issue confronting us. Each time a representative or senator switches a party for whatever reason, that person 'undoes' an election, subverts democracy. The people of Alabama elected a democrat who said, 'hey, I get a better deal as republican so I will ignore your vote.' It doesn't matter which side of the isle you sit in, what gives you the right to ignore democracy for personal gain. These are very dangerous actions–elected representatives ignoring democracy and disenfranchising voters.

    January 4, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  16. pall forloney

    Well now they will have to forego the uneployment pay and look for a real job thats pays much less. New work force means new jobs and Obama can claim them as his plan is working.

    January 4, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  17. VillageIdiot

    Does anyone really care about these staffers?

    The whole town (Washington) is filled with people so
    (insert your favorite profanity here in CAPS ...)
    they should all be sent back home.

    We have lost our moral compass as a society and it is those leaders who should be setting examples who are in fact guilty, guilty of being the biggest bunch of Wizards (think wizards like those in Oz, behind a curtain) mankind has ever seen.

    I learned one thing from the elections last year.

    Politicians like to take photos with babies simply to get close enough to steal their lollipops ! Don't trust any of them !

    January 4, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  18. Hugo

    Don't worry Parker you don't need them, I am sure there are plenty of level headed people out there to assist you in your endeavor. I understand exactly where you are at, today's Democratic Party is comprised of progressive liberals (Marxists, Socialists, etc.) with an ideology that is beyond normal logic and comprehension. It has left most central Democrats behind, we didn't leave it. I don't think Griffith left the Democratic Party, I think the Democratic Party has left it's base...

    See you in the unemployment line libs, 2010!

    January 4, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  19. Steve Lyons

    I'm notifying the Alabama department of unemployment to deny these people benefits. 1) They were working in Washington DC, and 2) more importantly the RESIGNED which disqualifies them from collecting unemployment. Good luck getting a job in this economy you sleazy political hacks.

    January 4, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  20. jeff jackson, alabama

    Winston Churchill once said,
    " When you are young if you're not liberal
    you don't have a heart. As you mature if you
    don't become conservative you don't have
    a brain."
    I guess Griffith finally grew up !!!

    January 4, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  21. Confused

    Do all congressmen have these large staffs? Why?

    January 4, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  22. Orville

    Seems like a confused politician to me!!...he couldn't run as a republican so he feigned being a democrat when running for office...now the wind is changing a bit and he jumps on the republican side...when Obama's team realizes further successes and the President's momentum grows more and more, I suppose Griffith will have a change of heart again and become a democrat again...I'm sure glad he does not represent my state!...what an idiot!

    January 4, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  23. KevininAlabama

    I live in the district the Congressman represents. I am a moderate swing voter. I usually vote Republican for president, but I always vote Democrat for my congressman. I believe that a Democrat will always help the local community more than a republican. But I believe that a republican president will keep us safer.
    So, I'm sorry Mr. Griffith, I voted for you as a conservative Democrat, it appears you are not what we elected. My wife and I have already chosen that we will not vote for you again. Good luck in the future, but I imagine you will find a good chunk of this district thinks like we do.

    January 4, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  24. Michael M, Phoenix AZ

    Just like Liberman going "Independent" then.

    January 4, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  25. tom

    Gee, the staff has more integrity and principles than the idiot who switched parties. This pariah has cut short their political career. Good riddence on his next election.

    January 4, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
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