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. hermaans

    Are reps.working for The betterment of the People of AMERICA or are they out there just to criticise every move of the Government ?We Europeans are discouraged with this enthropy.IS America really a role model of other Nations?Mind u republicans,The world is watching how your party is trying to destroy the hope and values of this World.Work with the goverment and get things done.AMERICA,ONE LOVE

    January 4, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  2. J. Rochester, NY

    The lonely wolf in sheep's clothing.

    January 4, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  3. Michael Pottorff

    I see all the Republicans are happy and the Democrats are mad about this. This guy does nothing to erase the divide in this nation, but he basically assured his defeat next election. As stated before on this blog, who'd vote for someone knowing there's a chance they'd switch parties again? He's proven he has no values, or stones for that matter.

    January 4, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. Chris

    This is why we need term limits on members of Congress!!! Switching to another party so that you can milk a check out of the American people is so wrong!!! IT IS TIME FOR TERM LIMITS!!!

    January 4, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  5. Steve

    If this guy were a Republican-turned-Democrat, liberals wouldn't be saying a thing about it. But, as always, the double-standard is king.

    January 4, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  6. janetlaw

    So, can the people who voted for him as a democrat take back their votes now?

    January 4, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  7. leonard

    How is what he did any different than what Arlen Specter did?

    January 4, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  8. socalgal

    So Long Staffers!! Don't let the door hit you on the way out!

    January 4, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  9. Bren

    Who cares!!!

    After the 2010 elections, these Democrat staffers are going to be collecting unemployment anyways!!!

    I am quite sure that Mr. Griffith will have no problem hiring new staff.

    This is a district that was won by McCain.

    After Obama, Pelosi, Reid, etc.--how can anyone possibly think that a Democrat has a chance here.

    January 4, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  10. Harold

    At least there are a few who are willing to stick to principle. Good for these staffers.

    January 4, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  11. mytabloids

    I know politicians are immune from most normal laws and behaviors, but shouldn't he be sued by the people who elected him for breach of promise?

    January 4, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  12. KD

    Well, well, well. Looks like 5th district of Alabama includes city of Madison and that's where I live. I'll make sure to vote against Mr. Griffith in the next elections.
    I cannot stand party switchers- regardless of which party they are switching to. To me, it's blatant betrayal of electorate.

    January 4, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  13. Debbie

    His staff had no choice really. They worked for a man they believed in and his values. Griffiith flip-flopping sides shows lack of character and values.

    He either lied to the people of Alabama about his values or he is switching sides for his own political means. Either way lying or flip-flopping are not character traits people vote for. it is a matter of character and flip flopping to justify his own means of political ends.

    Specter will have the same problem.

    January 4, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  14. Carol

    Smart move,getting out of that snake pit. He has a right to change parties like anybody else but we know the party he choose are old gray haired selfish greedy hateful right wingers/haters who don't like change and will never accept change.

    January 4, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  15. Griffith rocks

    I'm glad the staff quit!

    If they can't support reducing spending and the national deficit, OR individual freedoms associated with private business, healthcare and life in general, then they have no place in Griffith's office.

    The democratic party has been 'fundamentally' screwing up the economy for 11 months.

    January 4, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  16. Your comment is awaiting moderation AGAIN

    They all should have taken turns dumping on their desks.

    January 4, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  17. NJD

    Calling someone a "blue dog" democrat is just another way of calling someone a dixiecrat. These guys are democrat because Abraham Lincoln (you know, the guy who helped end slavery) was a republican.
    So, I guess it's fitting that this turd is switching parties, now that the values of switched parties since Lincoln was in office.

    January 4, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  18. LacrosseMom

    ALL Blue Dogs should tender their resignation & join the GOP! After all they are Republicans is disguise!

    Our own "Democrat-Blue-Dog" will be voted out of office this year!

    Traitors must leave!

    And BRAVO to his staff for resigning!

    January 4, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  19. L from AL

    I believe if a person is elected as a Democrat, he should not change to the Republican party until that position is up for re-election. Same for Reps changing to Democrat. This is voter fraud to me. He was elected by Democrats and is now representing Republicans who did not even vote for him. Shame on these self-serving politicians. That's what's wrong with Washington. They spend so much time and money on getting re-elected, and it's hard to vote out a sitting public official these days. If voters refuse to vote out these poorly performing officials, it affects the entire country. So get out there and vote these bums out of office – both Republicans and Democrats.

    January 4, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  20. Hendrik

    Well, Mr. Griffith has now lost his staff. That is what happens when you are a traitorous bum. Nobody wanted Mr. Griffith to be a liberal. He blames Pelosi for his defection. He defected because he felt he would lose during the next election.

    Mr. Griffith should realize that, even though he now is a Republicans, he will NEVER be welcomed by those beasts. They will grind him up and spit him out. Republicans walk in lock step and don't trust anyone who is not ideologically pure enough. You are not pure, you are dirty and unprincipled. You will not be reelected in 2010, trust me.

    January 4, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  21. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Good riddance and don't come back.

    January 4, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  22. Kevin in KC

    Dumb staff! Smart Man!

    January 4, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  23. Mike1952

    Who cares. If they are a bunch of liberals he should be celebrating. He won't have to fire them all.

    He swore to protect and defend the Constitution. How can you remain in the democrat party and have any honor or self-respect after taking that oath and watching them shred it over and over again.

    January 4, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  24. katiec

    Good for his staff.
    At least THEY show some integrity and honor.

    January 4, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  25. carol

    This guy was never a Dem. He got in as a Dem so he could add another Rep vote. We have one of those so called Blue Dogs in indiana. Same thing. Ours was never a Dem either. All the Blue Dogs are really Moderate Repubs.
    I am a Dem ,but I will spend a lot of time and money to get rid of all the Blues. Turn coats

    January 4, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
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