Party-Switcher Griffith to Dem Donors: Sorry Suckers Money all Spent
January 16, 2010
(ChattahBox)—Rep. Parker Griffith (R-AL) has a message to Democratic donors looking for a refund: Sorry suckers, the money is all gone. The freshman Congressman switched parties last month less than a year in office as a Democrat, after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent $1.8 million to elect Griffith in a tight race. The opportunistic Griffith noticed the conservative trending in his Alabama district and decided to jump ship to the other side of the aisle, to increase his chances of becoming reelected. The DCCC wasn’t pleased with his decision, after spending all of that money on Griffith’s election and neither were Democratic donors who contributed towards his campaign. In response to the criticism, Griffith promised to refund contributions to anyone who asked – in writing.
Well, Griffith seems to have changed his mind on that refund thing. The donors writing for refunds, have received a form letter from Griffith saying the money from 2008 is gone—-sorry about that.
The day after he made his promise to refund contributions, he backtracked a bit, saying that any refunds would exclude money spent by the National Democratic Party. Now, he has backtracked his original promise even further, saying that donations made towards his 2008 campaign will not be refunded. Only money given to Griffith for his 2010 reelection campaign would be refunded.
According to Griffith’s hometown newspaper, The Huntsville Times, Griffith never mentioned “a cutoff date or any restriction in which election cycle the contribution was given.” Griffith previously told the Times that “there is no cutoff date.” Additionally, the Times reported that Griffith had more than $600,000 left in campaign contributions.
In an email to Talking Points Memo, Huntsville Times reporter Patricia McCarter, said that “[Griffith] didn’t announce the ’2008 election’ qualifier until a week or two afterwards.”
When he was asked to explain the discrepancy in his form letter denying refunds from the 2008 campaign, he responded that only contributions made towards the 2010 election cycle will be refunded to donors. Griffith called the refund policy snafu a misunderstanding.
John S. Peck, editorial page editor of The Huntsville Times isn’t buying Griffith’s explanations for denying refunds. In an editorial entitled, “How reliable is U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith?” Peck accuses the turncoat congressman of “reneging on his refund promise.”
Griffith’s Capitol Hill staff doesn’t think much of the former Democratic congressman’s integrity either. After the first of the year, nearly his entire staff, including chief of Staff Sharon Wheeler marched into his office to submit their resignations. Wheeler issued a statement on behalf of the staff citing Griffith’s “misguided mistake,” saying “…we cannot, in good conscience, continue working for him.”
DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen previously issued a statement demanding that Griffith pay back the money that was invested in his Democratic campaign. “Mr. Griffith, failing to honor our commitment to him, has a duty and responsibility to return to Democratic members and the DCCC the financial resources that were invested in him. His constituents will hold him accountable for failing to keep his commitments.”
As pointed out by Talking Points Memo, party switchers have no legal obligation to return campaign funds, but it’s customary to make some form of repayment.
Photo Source: Eric Schultz / The Huntsville Times