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. Dyan, Minnesota

    I'm curious whether this is common when a politican switchs parties or there is something unique in this situation.

    Btw, Griffith or the Republican Party should also repay the Democratic Party for the funds they spent getting him elected. If he feels more comfortable as a Republican, that's fine and I wish him well. But the voters who donated to the Democratic Party intended that those funds be used to elect Democrats. And Griffith knew that when he accepted the money. So let's be fair and principled here by repaying the money.

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

    Good Riddance to this traitor

    January 4, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  3. Tarheel

    Parker Griffith must have been a good candidate regardless of party if he beat a Republican in a district carried by McCain by 23 points. Or that must have been one crappy Republican that ran against him. Something tells me he will do just fine in the upcoming election even as a Republican. Let's face it. If he could win as a Democrat in that Conservative a district then it should be a cakewalk to win as a Republican and he will also be able to be a true Conservative without so much pressure from the Democratic party to vote against his values.

    January 4, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  4. Guest in AZ

    I applaud his staff for standing up for their beliefs. It shows us that congressmen and congresswomen are not the gods that they hold themselves to be.

    January 4, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  5. Liberal Hypocrisy

    Why is it that when a Republican or Independent switches to the Democratic party he's a hero with principles, but when the shoe is on the other foot, the person is suddenly selling out? Hey politicians, this is why nobody trusts you.

    January 4, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  6. martin

    Voters should have the right to terminate his employment if he chooses to become republican. He was hired as a Democrat.

    January 4, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  7. NOT A DEMOCRAT ANYWAY..

    This jerk was never a true Democrat anyway so no big deal. He is just finally showing his true colors. Good ridence and his staff should have quit him long ago when they found out what he was up to...

    January 4, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  8. ProgVet

    As most will realize, Congressional staffers perform much of the work for those we elect. Parker's successes whatever they may be were built on the work performed by those he is abandoning, including his former constituents. It remains to be seen what impact his change of party will have. I am hopeful that as the history of obstructionist politics plays itself out for the Republican Party, people will have paid enough attention to vote for further change in November. Having a solid majority followed by speaking and acting more like a party for the people will help all of us who support Democratic principles. There is apsolutely nothing wrong with being conservative as long as you don't sell yourself out for a party which represents nothing whatsoever...

    January 4, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  9. Peter s

    Parker Griffith's will be jobless very soon!

    January 4, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  10. James Pfeiffer

    I really can't help but wonder why Republicans call themselves conservatives! Conservative comes directly from the root word conserve. Conserve means to take care of our natural resources and our environment, both of which the Republicans do not do, mostly because it gets in the way of their own insatiable prophet hunger. Conserve is the opposite of gross, run-away capitalism, just the opposite of what Republicans have come to stand for. Conserve is to take care of the elderly, poor and disenfranchised in this country...because people are our most important resource, just the opposite of what Republicans stand for, which is selfish pathological plutomania. Instead they guise their real agendas by playing the most sinister of word games by actually calling themselves conservative. The credo of the conservative is "I've made it, but if you can't, well then tough luck bucko". Instead of hiding behind the misleading word conservative, why not be truthful and call yourselves "selfish" or "selfserving"...wouldn't that be simpler too...we could say, "Who's running for the "selfserving" this election"?

    January 4, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  11. Tommy

    Let me get this straight. His staff had no problem working for him when he voted against the stimulus, cap and trade, and the health care bill. However, when he puts an R after his name, that is just unforgiveable? Some of you whiners need a reality check. No liberal Democrat is going to get elected from that district. The best you can hope for is a conservative Democrat that votes the same way as Parker Griffith, or a Republican.

    January 4, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  12. A different George W.

    Our 'local' politicians are letting us down at every step.
    This nation MUST find a way to work as a collaborative team and
    put so much of this 'party politics' aside. We can not afford at this
    moment in history to watch this nation crumble because Conservatives
    are so angry they will say and do anything to 'score points' by pushing radically divisive efforts. Our system is broken in so many ways...and all
    we need do is see yet another 'random' shooting (this time in a Vegas Courthouse); another Conservative rant on FOX News (which is just as dangerous as Al Jazeera – sorry, but its true) in its efforts to incite violence across this country. You're afraid of Al Queda?! Get real – our own citizens are far more dangerous and they're already here!

    January 4, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  13. Stevo

    A republican wolf in sheeps clothing. It's a pity we are represented by such untrustworthy and disseptive people. Hope he looses the next election.

    January 4, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  14. Edwin

    This is hardly news. His staffers are probably democrats first, Griffith followers second (most congressional workers are, I think).

    The same thing probably happened to Arlen Specter's staff when he changed parties, but I don't recall any news stories about it.

    January 4, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  15. blindbear

    Now, while they're all looking for jobs, the staffers are being all nice and polite, as any reasonable job-seekers should. But when these staffers are snapped up by other principled Democrats, their ex-boss will discover around election time that the staffers know where all the bodies are buried. I hope the reason they waited until they returned to Washington was so they could spend a little quality time with the office Xerox machine.

    January 4, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  16. MadraveN

    If he is switching parties, then there should be a special election. The voters, voted in a democrat, not a republican. Let him run again as a republican and see if the voters want him. It's only fair

    January 4, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  17. tominva

    He may have quit because he discovered that Democrats increasingly consist of people like those commenting here, who believe that anyone who disagrees with them is immoral. He no doubt feels that the Democratic Party has moved away from him, and he is certainly better off getting rid of staff that cannot support him in what he does. He will not have a problem finding better people.

    January 4, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  18. Connie

    Maybe those people voted for his beliefs, not the "Party".

    January 4, 2010 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  19. Mr Joshua

    It seems to me that the Democratic party left him. The entire Democratic leadership is California type Liberal Ditto Obama. Looks like he followed Principle to me and if so good for him. And he will not be the last.

    January 4, 2010 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  20. Libertarian

    GWB and Cheney killed conservatism. There are a few "middle grounders" like myself who want to re-establish SOME of those principles. The other two parties will be left with the fanatics that ONLY VOTE for their party no matter what. After watching GWB's first term, I refused to vote Republican again. I may not always agree President Obama either....but I will NOT ASK OTHERS to help me make him fail.

    This country will only fail if those seeking to sabotage our nation succeed. I'm talking Rush, Hannity, etal. They are in this SOLELY for ratings and their own self promotion...regardless of how it hurts everyone else.

    January 4, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  21. MJ

    Everyone here seems to be labeling the Republicans as divisive; but this country has never been more divided along party lines than they are now that the Demoncrats are in charge. And since when is the Demoncrat party the party of conservative values and leadership. This administration is one of the most liberal and far left of any in recent history.

    January 4, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  22. james

    Well, obviously his staff are more interested in being Democrats than working for the good CONSERVATIVE people of North Alabama. I don't suppose you can blame them, though. In the obscenely partisan atmosphere that is Washington DC today, if they went with him they'd never get another job.

    January 4, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  23. Bellany

    GOOD FOR THEM, he's an idiot. so whose running against him I'm supporting that campaign!

    January 4, 2010 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  24. Crystal64

    Didn't Senator Specter quit the Republican Party and become a Democrat? Works both ways!!

    January 4, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  25. Simple Words

    Seems like the perfect illustration of the differences between the 'liberal' and 'conservative' mindset. Conservatives talk about values and principals, but it's only ideology that they can use to convince the well-meaning-but-ignorant to vote against their best interests.

    Liberals take values and principals personally, even if it means giving up your own job. This staff resignation is an all too rare display of personal sacrifice and commitment on Capitol Hill. Bravo!

    January 4, 2010 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
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