Judge limits Ethics Commission hearing into Oxendine

A judge issued an order Thursday blocking a State Ethics Commission hearing set for next week from discussing two insurance companies caught funneling $120,000 to Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine’s gubernatorial campaign.

The commission has been investigating the donations since last year and recently subpoenaed the companies – State Mutual Insurance and a subsidiary Admiral Life Insurance, both of Rome – for financial records. The companies balked, and filed a suit in Fulton County to stop the investigation. They argued it was political and had been delayed until just before the July 20 primary election to hurt Oxendine. Delos Yancey III, who heads State Mutual, is a friend of Oxendine.

Stacey Kalberman, the commission’s executive secretary, said delays have not been caused by the commission, but by a lack of cooperation from 10 political action committees in Alabama that channeled the donations to Oxendine. The PACs were set up by a State Mutual board member.

Kalberman said the order prohibits discussion of the insurance companies at next week’s hearing, but it does not block commissioners from discussing Oxendine or the Alabama PACs.

“We are going to be presenting information about the PACs,” she said.

The commission hearing is set for next Thursday, June 24.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kimberly M.E. Adams said the next hearing on the suit by the insurance companies has not been scheduled but must be held by July 2.

Last year, the AJC reported that two Georgia-based insurance companies had used ten Alabama political action committees to funnel $120,000 – almost ten times the legal limit – to Oxendine’s campaign.

Georgia’s Ethics-in-Government Act prohibits officials from taking money directly from companies they regulate. The law also prohibits funneling money through PACs to get around contribution limits of $12,200 per candidate in a normal election cycle.

After the stories, Oxendine returned the money and the State Ethics Commission opened an investigation.





A Fulton County judge on Thursday said the State Ethics Commission cannot move forward with its hearing scheduled for ThursdayJune 24 into more than $100,000 in contributions Republican gubernatorial hopeful John Oxendine received from a series of PACs.

Superior Court Judge Kimberly M.E. Adams issued the order, saying the Ethics Commission and State Mutual Life Insurance Co. had agreed to schedule a hearing in her court by July 2, making it unlikely that the commission’s hearing will be rescheduled before the July 20 primary.

State Mutual sued the commission in late May, saying the June 24 hearing was scheduled close to the primary to embarrass Oxendine. It wants the judge to quash the subpoenas.

Stacey Kalberman, the commission’s executive secretary, said delays have not been caused by the commission, but by a lack of cooperation from 10 political action committees in Alabama that channeled the donations to Oxendine. The PACs were set up by a State Mutual board member.

Kalberman said the order prohibits discussion of the insurance companies at next week’s hearing, but it does not block commissioners from discussing Oxendine or the Alabama PACs.

“We are going to be presenting information about the PACs,” she said.On May 19, the Ethics Commission issued two subpoenas ordering State Mutual and its affiliate Admiral Life Insurance, both of Rome, for records related to the contributions. to provide all records of communications from Jan. 1, 2008, to the present day, between the two insurance companies and Alamerica Bank, Donald V. Watkins Sr., Donald V. Watkins Jr., and any PACs chaired by Watkins Jr.  The commission also wants all banking records regarding any payments made by the insurance companies to Alamerica Bank, both Watkinses and the PACs chaired by Watkins Jr.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported in May 2009 that Oxendine had received $120,000 in campaign contributions from a series of Alabama-based political action committees with ties to the two insurance companies. Oxendine refunded the contributions.

4 comments Add your comment

[...] a Fulton County judge made a decision likely to affect the Republican side of the equation. From my AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin: A judge issued an order Thursday blocking a State Ethics Commission hearing set for next week from [...]

Not A Republican and Not For Any Republicans

June 19th, 2010
4:41 pm

Probably a Republican Judge appointed by Sonny who doesn’t want Oxie to be shown for what he is before the primary. Just hope nobody is dumb enough to vote for Oxie but there are two kinds of Republicans out there – millionaires and suckers – so who knows.

Scandal Cornucopia « Left on Lanier

June 20th, 2010
9:57 pm

[...] John Oxendine is preparing for a State Ethics investigation into bundled campaign contributions. [...]

[...] GOP-Gov: The Ethics Commission hearing on gubernatorial hopeful and Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine (R) has been blocked from looking into two insurance companies that skirted fundraising laws through donations to Oxendine. [...]