WASHINGTON – All but one of the Washington staffers for Rep. Parker Griffith resigned on Monday in protest of the Alabama congressman's decision to switch from the Democratic to the Republican Party.
In a sharply worded statement, Griffith's former chief of staff, Sharon Wheeler, called the freshman congressman's switch a "mistake" that goes against the interests of his district, which relies heavily on federal funding for defense and aerospace jobs.
"We cannot in good conscience continue working for him," Wheeler said. "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."
Griffith's legislative aides, interns and other junior staffers also quit, joining his former spokesman, Sean Magers, who had already announced he was leaving. The resignations left Griffith with just one staffer in his Washington office, a scheduler. A handful of employees remained at his district offices in Alabama, said Gene Tackett, his district director.
In a statement, Griffith said the resignations were expected. He said all of his offices remain open and that he is confident he can fill the vacancies by Jan. 12, when Congress reconvenes after the holidays.
"It is an unfortunate fact that any time a change like this occurs partisanship becomes an issue as it has in this case," Griffith said. "The staff members who have resigned have served this district diligently and I wish them well in their future endeavors."
Griffith, a former state senator, narrowly won the seat last year and announced his party switch on Dec. 22, saying he could no longer support the Democratic agenda on health care and other issues.
Wheeler said Griffith made a "well-intentioned but misguided" decision. She said he abandoned the legacy of conservative Democratic leadership in the north Alabama district, which includes Huntsville.