Ga. Ethics Commission Seeks Help In Oxendine Donations Case

NU Online News Service, Aug. 18, 3:40 p.m. EDT

A case involving the alleged inappropriate donations of two insurance companies and political actions committees to Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine could be referred to the state prosecutor for investigation.

Stacey Kalberman, executive secretary of the Georgia Ethics Commission (GEC), told the commission on Tuesday that it was time to "consider referring this matter to the prosecutor."

The GEC has attempted to get more information about $120,000 of campaign funds given to Commissioner Oxendine from Rome, Ga.-based State Mutual Insurance Company and subsidiary Admiral Life Insurance Company toward Mr. Oxendine's campaign for governor.

Commissioner Oxendine returned the funds but the GEC issued subpoenas to the insurers for more documents--a move that has netted little results, said Ms. Kalberman.

"We've been frustrated every step we take," she said of the attempt to get the documents.

The insurers fought to stop the subpoena, but a judge ruled against them. The insurers are now suing the commission in a case that is still pending.

In the meantime, Ms. Kalberman wonders if "someone with better subpoena powers," like the state prosecutor, could get to the documents she suspects are being withheld by State Mutual and Admiral Life.

Ms. Kalberman said she is "very, very concerned there are documents being held by the insurance companies, and perhaps others, in violation of the subpoenas."

Commissioner Oxendine did not win the GOP nomination for governor.

Georgia State Senator Ralph Hudgens, meanwhile, gained the Republican nomination for Commissioner Oxendine's current post of insurance commissioner.

The GEC on Tuesday accepted an agreement with Sen. Hudgens over improperly transferring $100,000 campaign funds from his legislative campaign to his campaign for insurance commissioner when he decided to run for the position.

Sen. Hudgens was given some misinformation by a former GEC staff member about the legality of the transfer, said Ms. Kalberman, who added that the funds were never spent.

The matter can be reopened if more evidence surfaces, Ms. Kalberman said.

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