A US House representative from Alabama took voter registration information from Democratic Party offices before defecting to the GOP, the Alabama branch of the Democratic Party says.
Rep. Parker Griffith announced his switch to the Republican Party on Tuesday, telling the press he can "no longer align [him]self with a party that continues to pursue legislation that is bad for our country, hurts our economy, and drives us further and further into debt."
The Alabama Democratic Party issued a statement Wednesday accusing Griffith's political consultancy, Main Street Strategies, of downloading "sensitive voter identification data that was the property of the Alabama Democratic Party."
"This final act was obviously intended to aid Mr. Griffith in his new role as a Republican candidate. Upon hearing of Mr. Griffith’s switch, security measures were taken to prevent further transfers of data," the statement read.
Even though the "sensitive" voter data helped elect Griffith in 2008, "in the wee hours before he became a Republican, Parker Griffith’s political operatives, with full knowledge of what was occurring, went online and downloaded our confidential records,” Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Joe Turnham said.
Despite his arrival in the Alabama GOP with political opponents' data, it appears Griffith is getting a less-than-welcoming reception from some state Republicans.
"I can't help but regard this 'Road to Damascus' conversion of Parker Griffith's as solely a ploy to cling to his seat in 2010," said Republican State Treasurer Kay Ivey, as quoted at the Huntsville Times. "We're all well-aware of the increasingly negative poll results for Democrats in Alabama and around the nation."
Griffith has denied the accusation that his defection amounts to political opportunism, instead pointing the finger at the health care reform legislation working its way through Congress.
"I want to make it perfectly clear that this bill is bad for our doctors," the Associated Press quoted Griffith as saying. "It's bad for our patients. It's bad for the young men and women who are considering going into the health care field."
"Democrats of every stripe and philosophy sweated and bled for this man," Turnham told the AP Tuesday. "He narrowly became a congressman through the hard work, votes and financial contributions of thousands of Democrats. Today, they feel betrayed."
David Weigel at the Washington Independent notes that Griffith's denouncement of the health care reform effort doesn't jibe with his pro-health reform track record.
Greg Sargent catches a May 2006 interview with then-State Senator Parker Griffith in which he refers to himself as a “life-long” Democrat and a supporter of “health care for all of the citizens.” Glenn Thrush finds that Griffith has voted with Nancy Pelosi — that is to say, with the Democrats — 85 percent of the time. And yesterday, Josh Kraushaar reported that Griffith, still in the thrall of the Democratic Party, donated $1,500 to Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential bid and $1,000 to Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.).