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. Republicans kill Troop

    Good for them,the right side of history is where his staff should stay

    January 4, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  2. Ed

    Please stop using the word Consrvative and Democrat in the same sentence. There is no such thing. And Moderate is someone who just can't make up their mind. Democrats have become Liberals/Socalists while Republicans, Ok I don't know what Republicans are anymore. If you want an old time Conservative Democrat then look to Zell Miller of GA. He was the last. True Conservatives currently have no party.

    January 4, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  3. sifto77

    What on earth is a "conservative democrat"? this article has more holes than a sieve. Give the guy a break–he does not approve of the bankrupting policies of "the one".

    January 4, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  4. One from Alabama

    Those of you thinking that his party switch hurt his re-election chances couldn't be more wrong.

    He was barely surviving as a Democrat in a heavily Republican conservative district. He almost lost the last election despite the biggest Democratic voter turnout in decades despite his proven record as a conservative.

    The current administration's policy direction is a death sentence for Democrats running in moderate/conservative southern districts. Alabama's most liberal representative, Artur Davis, is running for Governor in 2010. He's doing everything he can to distance himself from the administration because he knows what's about to happen.

    As a Republican, Griffith will win his seat by a larger margin in 2010 than he did in 2008. As a Democrat, he would have lost. If the Republican party would take him, Bobby Bright would switch too. As a Democrat, he will lose too – despite being a proven conservative. The Obama stain will be too much.

    January 4, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  5. Republicans killed our Troops

    Good for them,on the right side of history is where his staff should stay,he wants some of that lobby money from the corporations

    January 4, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  6. Carl Abernathy

    Rep Griffith has always been a republican at heart although he was elected as a democrap. He has found he cannot in good conscience support the democrap policies, and I applaud him for following his good conscience rather than hanging around not representing his people but just following the edicts of the House Speaker who is an idiot. Those open positions can now be filled with conservative staffers who can make some good sense for the representative to do his best job.

    January 4, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  7. chubby

    He changed parties because he could no longer associate himself with a tax and spend party. He will win re-election by a larger margin than he won election. Nice to see an elected official quit a party because it is operating in opposition to the American peoples wishes. The American people want a cut off of spending and to see some fiscal responsibility which has not/is not being shown by nobama and the demorats.

    January 4, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  8. Wes

    I have no political respect for a man who's elected by one party and switches to the other. If he wanted to be a republican, he should have ran as one from the beginning or waited until his Democratic elected term was over. Parker Griffith betrayed the people of North Alabama who put him in office. I wish all of his political opponents well in future elections. I applaud Griffith's staff for distancing themselves from his wreckless decision.

    January 4, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  9. Julia Gilbreth

    If, there were any good morals and honest and God fearing people in goverment positions anymore we wouldn't be in the mess this country is in now!! It doesnt matter what party one says thet are a part of !! It comes back what is truth one should go for, not just to please the ones yoiu may think pats you on the back or slips that extra money in your hands or pocket or in a secert BANK SOME WHERE!!
    The people we vote for should be those that believe in a God that can help them to make honest decisions and not to thinkof the moment at hand but the LONG--------PICTURE.

    January 4, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  10. hongli

    Can every Democrat say "JUDAS" with me? thank you.

    January 4, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  11. Ken in Mt

    Since Griffeths has opted to openly march to the drum of big business and to abandon the needs of his constituants , it is nice that his staff at least still has ethics and has opted to use the door to leave.

    January 4, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  12. Michael from Ventura

    Godd for them!!

    January 4, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  13. annie s

    Mr. Griffith was a Democrat in name only anyway – he voted against every single piece of legislation that would bring needed change to this country. So good riddance – but hooray for his principled staff!

    January 4, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  14. Michael from Ventura

    Good for them!

    January 4, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  15. Houston Mom

    Poor Republicans, they actually have deluded themselves into thinking that the American people will come back and vote for them again. Sorry but we will never forget what you have done to our nation. You fiscally devastated it. You socially divided it and well, internationally...you ruined our reputation.

    January 4, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  16. Fred

    Gee... who is going to actually do the job that he was elected for......he certainly did not do the tough work himself...wonder how he going to enjoy answering those tough phone call from all those who actually elected him of office....look like he's going to be a "one termer"

    January 4, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  17. de angelo

    Did CNN blame Bush for this?

    January 4, 2010 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  18. Cameron Daley

    Where can I get an application for one of the open positions?

    January 4, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  19. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I meant to say: fare- THEE-wells. So sorry.

    January 4, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  20. Greg, MN

    Uummmhhh... he left the liberals for the Republican party, but the Democratic committee said he left the conservatives behind??? There is not one thing conservative about the democratic party today.

    January 4, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  21. Ken

    At this point, I would be happy to see ANYONE in Washington with a hint of conservative values. Financial and social conservatism is certainly not welcomed in the Democrat party, and that absence of responsibility threatens to damage our children’s opportunities of prosperity for decades, if not generations. Of course, the far left liberal/socialist policies that have been put in place since the big O rode into town may simply destroy this nation.

    January 4, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  22. GIBBS

    trust me....this man made no mistake!

    January 4, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  23. Carl

    Hey, any of you lefties heard of Arlen Specter?

    January 4, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  24. Dave

    Save your self !!! forget everyone else !!! that must be the senators statement

    January 4, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  25. Mark

    This clown Griffith obviously got an offer of more political contributions from republicans so he can act as another paid lobbyist for them. The nice people of Alabama shoud be embarrassed.

    January 4, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
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