GOP Hands Party-Switcher Griffith Plum Post
The newest member of the House Republican leadership team will relinquish his seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee next week, allowing the Conference to reward party-switcher Rep. Parker Griffith (R-Ala.) with a plum post.
Andrew Whelan, a spokesman for newly appointed Republican Leadership Chairman Greg Walden (Ore.), said his boss chose to temporarily leave the committee because it would have been difficult to manage the responsibilities of his new leadership job and his work on the busy panel. Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced his intention to nominate Griffith to Walden’s seat on Energy and Commerce on Thursday afternoon.
Whelan added that Walden would retain his Energy and Commerce seniority.
Walden will not officially step down from the committee until next week, since the House must approve all committee departures, Whelan said.
Griffith shocked Democratic leadership in December when he switched his party affiliation and joined the GOP. Boehner’s decision to replace Walden with Griffith was made during a closed-door meeting of the Republican Steering Committee earlier Thursday, according to GOP sources familiar with the meeting.
Shortly after the Steering Committee meeting, Boehner announced he had tapped Walden as the chairman of the Republican leadership, a little-known position that has been vacant since 2005 when then-Rep. Rob Portman (Ohio) held the job. Former Reps. Bob Walker (Pa.) and Bill Paxon (N.Y.) have also served in the position.
“Greg Walden is a proven leader and a champion for smaller, more accountable government. We need him at the leadership table as we enter this critical year for our country, and I deeply appreciate his willingness to serve as our leadership chairman,” Boehner said.
Walden will be charged with directing the House GOP Transparency Initiative, a project aimed at making the House more open and accountable to the American people. He will retain his position as a deputy whip and the deputy chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, according to a release from Boehner’s office. Republican leadership and staff called Walden a team player and a tireless worker, both reasons he was given a seat at the leadership table.
“Greg has done a phenomenal job as the NRCC vice chairman,” said a GOP leadership source. “As a result he was invited to attend the leadership retreat and he has become well-respected around the leadership table.”
Correction: Feb. 5, 2010
The article originally misspelled Andrew Whelan’s last name.