Posted by: Cobb County Liberal | May 18, 2009

GaGo10: Yup, Oxendine is a corrupt thug.

Oxendine seems to be a political candidate straight out of the Blagojevich machine.  He’s definitely got some sort of pay-to-play attitude – you pay him political contributions, he lets you be an insurance salesman in Georgia.

From the AJC (thank you AJC!  your reporting has been great on this…)

Oxendine quickly developed a reputation for being an aggressive fund-raiser, piling up record amounts in his re-election campaign accounts by collecting donations from insurance agents and executives, small-loan company owners, health care officials and law firms…

Public criticism of Oxendine within the industry is scarce. When asked about Oxendine, longtime state Sen. George Hooks (D-Americus) said he could not say much because he runs an insurance agency and the commissioner’s office licenses him to do business. Several insurance agents and doctors who contacted the AJC last week declined to comment on the record.

So, he collects oodles of money from the insurance industry, particularly executives, and they are clearly too scared to comment negatively about him.  Why?  I can only assume he’d make their life a living hell, pull the plug on any sort of ability for them to do business in Georgia.

Perhaps the most frightening section of the article is right at the end of the article (once again, kudos to the AJC and the authors James Salzer and Cameron McWhirter):

Last year lawmakers approved legislation allowing companies to raise auto rates without Oxendine’s prior approval. A similar policy in the 1980s led to increased auto premiums. Oxendine decried the law, saying it would lead to big increases for drivers.

But lawmakers who supported the change argued Oxendine was worried the move would eliminate a major reason for auto insurance companies to give to his campaigns. Sen. Cecil Staton (R-Macon), whose bill was amended to include the “no-prior approval provisions,” said at the time that Oxendine “is ultimately concerned about his influence and his power and the power he wields over the insurance companies of this state.”

Wall, the consumer advocate, said lawmakers were concerned Oxendine had been linking rate approvals with financial support.

“Members of his own party were determined to put a stop to it,” she said. “They wanted to put an end to the shake-down tactics they perceived were happening.”

When it gets so bad that even members of your own Republican party notice and want to put a stop to it…that’s just hard to fathom.

Georgia is one of ten states that elect the state insurance commissioner.  I don’t know if the answer is to reform how the position is elected, or to just go back to the governor appointing it, but this is just a disgusting abuse of power (something Oxendine and his crown vics are quite familiar with.)

The guy is leading the GOP side for next year’s primary, but with this amount of time left who knows.  Part of me homes the GA GOP is smart enough to show this guy the door, but another part of me hopes he just barely gets by in a bloody primary so the Democratic Candidate can demolish him.

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