January 4th, 2010
05:34 PM ET
13 years ago

Parker Griffith's staff resigns

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/04/art.griffith.griffith.jpg caption="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. ccalgop1

    Lieberman is one of the best moderates in recent history. Conservative Democrats need to face the reality that they will never have a place in the liberal spaceship called the Democratic party.

    January 4, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  2. historian

    Parker Griffins needs to go home – he just doesn't cut it as a saavy politician –

    January 4, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  3. Rickster

    Good...kick those loser democrat staffers out the door and welcome, Representative Griffith, to the winning team.

    January 4, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  4. Lee in TN

    Parker Griffith weighed up his chances for getting re-elected and went with the republican party in a fanatically republican district. He will fit well in the party with it's motto of "Politics over People".

    January 4, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  5. ATL Guy

    His staff signed up to work for a Democratic congressman. Since they no longer work for a Democratic Congressman, it's only logical that they move on. Mr Griffith's mistake however is thinking that switching to the Republican Party would make him a conservative. The Tea Party crowd would savage him as a RINO and he would be challenged at the primary by a bonafide conservative. The bad news is that the DNCC has a lot of money to defend Democratic seats whereas the RNCC is almost broke. Unless he raises his own money, he's a sitting duck.

    January 4, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  6. methuselah

    an uninformed commenter said, "What if he doesn't believe in what his former party stood for?"
    The party didn't change, he didn't change, he lied. He is a Republican. Look at his voting record. What he believes doesn't matter. He didn't elect himself. He just robbed the votes of his constituents.

    January 4, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  7. Steve (the real one)

    Very funny how their was no such story about staffers when Spector or Jeffers switched parties. I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that he WAS a Dem got fed up with his party instead of a republican who became a Dem and one who became an independent that votes like a Dem? Makes you wonder? No bias here, right?

    January 4, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  8. victim of democrat hypocrisy

    This might be a trend in 2010–abandon AMSOC (American Socialism) or get voted out.

    January 4, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  9. Ramses

    Politicians, loyalty to party & people, where is it? Most of them are the same. Very few people really care for the good of people. Joe doberman, is he any better? They makes me sick.

    January 4, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  10. Sondra

    Did any of you compain and whine when Arlen Specter became a Democrat for fear of losing his Senate seat if he remained a Republican??? Just curious...

    January 4, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  11. Jeff of Peoria

    They are DEMOCRATS period. He's still the same guy. they must be looking for work in the DEMO's party.

    He's obviously better off w/o them if they'll quit on him that quick

    January 4, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  12. Moderate

    He just declared his true nature anyway. I think all the Blue Dogs should own-up and joint the party they vote for each time so we would be confused by them at election time. Now the Democrates can vote for who they think best expresses their views rather than being fooled by Blue Dog lies!

    January 4, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  13. Reality bites

    Parker Griffith is a turn-coat. If you don't believe in what you are doing...don't do it. I think he wasa GOPer all along and just waited to jump ship. I was personally offended. He ran on the heels of Bud Cramer who has done an outstanding job for the community that voted for him. To blazes with Parker Griffith and good riddance!

    January 4, 2010 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  14. Jerry

    I think that elected officials should be allowed to switch parties until the end of the term for which they were elected, or they must give up the seat immediately. He won as a Democrat and a Democrat should represent that office until the next election. (or vice versa if he was an elected Republican)

    Mr. Parker might be standing up for his principles, but he was elected by his constituency, so it seems more like arrogance since he is now going against those who elected him

    January 4, 2010 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  15. smlbusowner

    Being from his district, he is representing what this area of the country believes in. His staff quit because of what party he was in?? His beliefs are the same today as they were 6 months ago.

    January 4, 2010 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  16. Derrick

    This was REALLY A BAD MOVE by a first-term Democrat who changes parties just to make a blanket statement.

    The Democrats will get a fierce competitor who will unseat this person.

    Parker Griffith will lose his re-election.

    January 4, 2010 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  17. Ron in California

    Where do I apply?

    January 4, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  18. Ben

    Not a surprise. The staffers obviously put party above all.

    January 4, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  19. Rob

    Well, not a whole was said about why he is changing parties, and I think that should be considered prior to judging this man. It may very well be that he is switching due to the result of the recent health care legislation since two seem to coincide with each other. And it may be that his staff is leaving him because they feel that this health care legislation will benefit the people in his district. In either case, it looks as though neither side is second-guessing their decisions. One thing is certain to me: There is no longer a clear and straight-forward definition of a Democrat or a Republican. Good luck to all parties involved.

    January 4, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  20. gt

    send nancy , barney frank and charlie rangel down to alabama to talk to the voters to get hem to switch back .....

    January 4, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  21. David S.

    I find it amusing how the Democrats didn’t say the same tings when Spectre jumped ship. Hypocrites…Its only OK when Republicans switch sides, not Democrats. This has nothing to do with Party loyalty, the guy stayed true to his conservative values. The Democrats have been taken over by far left loonies, he’s a man of principles and not power, kudos to him!

    January 4, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  22. Ron

    I suspect they will be easily replaced with a strong conservative staff, competent to take him into the era of fiscal conservatism and a return to sanity. Your new staff will better serve you. Good Luck and God Bless Alabama.

    January 4, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
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