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. JW

    Why would republicans want him, if he had any brains or common sense he would already be one!

    January 4, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  2. jack, new york, new york

    obviously the staff members who resigned are invested in the democratic party machinery and quit to further their individual ambitions. so don't be stupid and take all this talk about "principles" at face value. and don't be naive and talk about their being "brave" to quit in this economy. the (democrats) party will take care of them i am sure.

    January 4, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  3. Sharon

    Appears like he is just switching parties for political electability in his district only. as he only wants to stay in Washington. Staff resigning – expected. Problem – can he make it & be welcomed as Republican??? .True motive for change debatable?

    January 4, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  4. Felonious Monk

    We have one party in America, it comprises of about 1,000 white adult males. They like to make us think there are democrats and republicans, but really they use those names to distract the American public.

    In case you haven't noticed, there are 1,000 people running this country and they don't listen to or care about America. They care about being career politicians and lining their pockets.

    January 4, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  5. mary

    good for them. He is crazy to switch parties. I bet he doesn't get re-elected.
    This should be illegal.

    January 4, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  6. Stephen

    Shouldn't allowed for a (sitting) elected official to change parties. It is tantamount to fraud.

    January 4, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  7. Dem in AZ

    I believe that Parker Griffith is not a blue dog but a yellow dog. Sad

    January 4, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  8. Republicans are the American Taliban

    At least his staff has integrity unlike him...

    January 4, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  9. bobby

    what goes around comes around

    January 4, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  10. swannee

    This guy is the worst type of opportunist. He rode into office on the coattails of Obama, Democratic money, and anger at Bush/Cheney. Now, that the Obama administration is having to clean up the frikkin mess from Bush and his policies, this jerk feels like the wind is blowing in the other direction & is jumping ship.

    Mark my words, he will be targeted and defeated next election. You just don't get to be elected on a lie with other people's money and not expect to suffer the repercussions.

    So long, Grifith, the worst type of politician!

    January 4, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  11. Jessica

    Call me crazy, but perhaps its time for something MORE than a 2 party system. The Liberman's of the world...and now folks like this make me realize we are simply flopping back and forth between what South Park eloquently put as a "turd sandwich" or a "douche".

    Obviously, I dont want people like this part of a 3rd party....I want people who can say "my ideas arent republican, nor democrat...they are MINE and MINE ALONE."

    I want people to lead, not parties.

    January 4, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  12. James Brooklyn

    He was always a Republican anyway. It was not hard to fool the people of Alabama. They are conservative anyway. Now they can toss him out and elect a true Republican and get really screwed. He and Joe Lieberman are the same. It is all about being in office not doing the work of the people.

    January 4, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  13. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    Good for his staff.......the good people of Alabama should quit on this man as well. He does not deserve their trust.

    January 4, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  14. Tre'

    Wow... I'm so glad these same people making these comments felt the same way about Spector... lest ye forget.

    January 4, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  15. DS

    I used to be a senior legislative assistant to a member of Congress. I worked for the people of the district, the Member of Congress, and the Democratic party. My boss had ethics or I could not, would not have worked for him. I applaud Griffith's staff for calling the Congressman out on his real agenda–getting reelected by any means. Thank you, Griffith Staffers, who can show Members of Congress what ethics mean.

    January 4, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  16. Bill

    I guess it was OK for Senators Arlen Spectre (PA) and Jim Jeffords (VT) to switch party affiliation from Republican to Democrat without any left wing outcry, even after having been elected as Republicans; but it's not OK for Rep Griffith to switch from Democrat to Republican. I wonder what the big difference is?

    January 4, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  17. Ted, Washington DC

    He stood elected as blue dog. His conservative efforts had not been fulfilled by the Democats and seeing no light at the end of the tunnel it was wise for him to go where bue dogs practice their art. Unfortunately his staffers who looked only after their own interest, did not realize that public service has nothing to do with expediency or self promotion. Did they work for the senantor because he was blue dog or worked for him without knowing waht he stood for. Are these staffers idiots?

    January 4, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  18. stevegee

    Great!

    Now if all the other Democrats in Washington would resign, we could stop the liberal socialist agenda and revitalize The American Dream.

    January 4, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  19. mjm

    Do any of you libs on here know what a Blue Dog is? Clinton was a Blue Dog Democrat, so was JFK. In fact, Reagan was a Blue Dog before he switched parties.

    The ignorance of the left....you don't even know your own party. You just show up on election day and pull any old lever with a D after it....probably because it reminds you of your report card in school.

    This guy went from a majority party to the minority....because he was just as disgusted as the rest of us with this liberal agenda.

    January 4, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  20. Benedict Arnold

    This Benedict Arnold, should not be allowed to serve as dog catcher. I sure that the Republican party will trust him just like they trust that war criminal, draft dodger, coward DICK CHENEY.

    January 4, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  21. Tim

    "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.

    What's that supposed to mean? If you look at the sun, black marbles make beautiful sounds.

    January 4, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  22. Blackened

    I wonder how many people complaining about him switching parties said the same thing when Leiberman became a Democrat.

    January 4, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  23. oldtimer

    I don't think he made a mistake, but would have rather had him become an independant. The Democrats are a direct threat the the welfare of the united states.

    January 4, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  24. John

    So just one year after being elected he decides he disagrees with his party and changes? he's not a young guy, you would think ideologically he would have known his beliefs before now....you don't just change your whole belief system in a year especially after just being elected by the people – whom you now have a responsibility to represent

    January 4, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  25. George

    He is scum. A true loser and a disgrace to America.

    January 4, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
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