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. Kevin in KC

    It seems to me that senator Arlen Specter was greeted with open arms by the democrats when he abondoned the Republican party.
    I applaud and greet Representative Griffith to the party of adults and rational thought – he escaped the cult!

    January 4, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  2. WAS

    All I can say is, welcome. The Idiot Dems that support every tax and spend issue deserve whatever comes their way. Some of you so-called Democrats that yell the ludest, I wonder if any of you have enough intelligence or sence to even read the lousy legislation that "your" party espouses....doubt it.........

    January 4, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  3. Thinker

    There is a lot more to this then we are being told. For almost his entire staff to resign on the same day indicates that there is a lot going on behind the scenes.

    January 4, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  4. FM

    Brave staff. They have shown him that he does not own them!

    January 4, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  5. AC

    The staff obviously wouldn't know a Conservative from a Liberal. THE Democrat Party left Conservatives behind long ago.... about 40 years ago to be exact. Parker Griffith is a Conservative, from a Conservative district, regardless of whether he has a a "D" or and "R" next to his name. His staff has placed Party Politics ahead of the People he represents. Too bad they haven't been paying attention to the groundswell of discontent that is going to come fully to the surface in 2010.

    January 4, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  6. Glenn Robinson

    GIven the fact the Spectre changed parties and I didn't see these types of comments from the Dems: Once again an example of double standards.
    The Congressman has to deal with the folks that elcted him.
    Since the 1940s the parties have switch positions and are now aligned opposite of what they were.
    Lincoln was a Republican. Who is going to argue that he didn't do enough; under the conditions he was elected under, to bring our country together as a single nation? President Obama quotes Lincoln and admires him for what he accomplished.
    If the Congressman has a valid belief in his convictions: He has to explain and deliver to his state those promises he stated.
    Otherwise he may as well run for president, get elected and try to change the system as Mrt. Obama is trying to do. That appears to be harder than Mr. Obama thought it would be. Good luck to all!

    January 4, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  7. gt

    welcome to the unemployment line,,, dont feel to good does it,,,

    January 4, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  8. Mike in Dallas

    I'm glad to see that his staff retains their character and integrity.

    January 4, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  9. salemlawyer

    The Obama Administration need look no further than these principled young people to join their Administration . . . . . . immediately!

    January 4, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  10. Mark

    No one person, anywhere, can trust Mr Griffith again. He will not devote fully to either party. Just another example of the two party system being outdated with todays reality. Abolish the two party system. It appears useless and pointless.

    January 4, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  11. Fitz in Texas

    They're quitting.....quitting like the left accuses Sarah Palin of doing?

    January 4, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  12. Julie

    Those voted into office by the people of thier state should not be permited to change political parties. This individual was voted by the Dems in AL not by the Republicans. He should resign & oh with the regard to his staff resigning...WAY TO GO! it should have been the other way around...

    January 4, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  13. Wade

    So how long before Spector jumps back over to the Republican party?
    A lot of Dems are going to be out of a job after the 2009 election cycle.

    January 4, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  14. Theodore L. Boise ID.

    I personally find it to be extremely appalling and disgusting when a member of either party jumps over to another like this pathetic character is doing. His Democratic constituency is being disenfranchised here. He is strongly betraying the trust that those Democrats placed in him, when they originally elected him into office.

    It's just absolutely outlandish, lousy, terrible and disgusting behavior!

    January 4, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  15. Karl

    Does the name Arlen Spectre ring a bell to anyone? This guy swapped to the Democratic party when they were in power and control. If there ever was anyone who could honestly say they switched parties because of their beliefs, it would be Griffith. This guy switched into the party way in the minority, so obviously he doesn't agree with what the ruling party is doing. Or he see's the writing on the wall, na na na na, hey hey hey, good bye!

    January 4, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  16. Kate

    Thank goodness they resigned. Now that Griffith has come to his senses, he will need a new staff. Hopefully, he will vote against all of this spending.

    January 4, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  17. Dennis

    The real issue is the lack of intelligence of the people in Alabama.

    January 4, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  18. Bill

    I live in Alabama, and congratulate his staff for leaving him.

    The people of Alabama will "leave him" in his next bid for re-election.

    January 4, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  19. G-man

    Not suprising he jumoed ship. The Democrats are trying to bankrupt the country by stuffing their healthcare atrocity down the publics neck. Maybe he didn't want to take Harry Reids bribes.

    January 4, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  20. Joe

    They should resign and join the unemployment line at the end.

    January 4, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  21. george from alaska

    what a total scumbag loser. only cowardly crooks switch parties after being elected. a pantywaist has more guts!

    January 4, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  22. CHANGE.COM

    It's good to be courageous and stand on principle, unlike Parker Griffith, their former boss. I'd do the same thing too if I were in their shoes. To Parker: you will lose the election come November! Can you dig that?

    January 4, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  23. anon72

    This guy is almost as dumb as Sen Spector for switching parties during a term instead of doing it at the next election (prior to the election) so people can choose etc.

    I say, and I know just about everyone of you Dems on here would agree, these dudes need some "voter justice".

    I say lets give it to them. Starting w/ Spector in PA in 2010. We'll "Hang 'em High" (voting-wise of course) and then onto this guy.

    LETS GET SPECTOR NOW> Who's with me? LETS ROLL

    Otherwise-I suggest you shut your sucks...... (mouths)

    January 4, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  24. Huntsvillian

    The only principle Parker stands for is his personal desire to be re-elected, and he has shot himself in the foot. November 2010 will bring good riddance.

    January 4, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  25. ed

    It's obvious there is a misquote in this story. Surely no Democrat can look at what' their Party is doing today and claim to be conservative. It just goes to reinforce the Democrat Party Philosophy – "How can we fool them today?"

    January 4, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
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