John Oxendine, Georgia Insurance Commissioner from 1995 to 2011, ran for Governor in 2010 and since that time has been battling the state Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission (formerly known as, and referred to herein as, the “Ethics Commission”) over alleged wrongdoing by his gubernatorial campaign. On May 12, 2022, the Ethics Commission announced a settlement of the remaining charges against Oxendine: he would turn over his leftover campaign funds–about $128,000–in exchange for dismissal of all remaining charges.
Over the years since his run for Governor, Oxendine has faced a smattering of charges from the Ethics Commission alleging an array of misconduct. Some, over time, would be dismissed, while the Commission doggedly pursued others. He first was alleged to have accepted contributions from two insurance companies (both run by the same individual) totaling $120,000 when the contribution limit at the time was $12,200.
Then the Ethics Commission alleged that he improperly retained and expended funds contributed to him for elections in which he did not ultimately appear on the ballot. Candidates are permitted to raise money for future elections in an election cycle, which generally consist of a primary election, a general election and, possibly, one or more runoff elections. In Oxendine’s case, he had raised money for a runoff and general election but, because he lost in the primary, did not compete in those later elections. The Ethics Commission eventually dismissed those charges.
Most recently, he had been accused of allocating campaign funds for personal use. The Ethics commission said he had used the funds for a down payment on a home, cars and childcare expenses, whereas Oxendine countered that those funds had been properly loaned to his law firm. The matter went before a Georgia Administrative Judge who dismissed the charges as having been brought too late, but the Ethics Commission refused to adopt that decision and continued pursuing its charges against Oxendine. Despite earlier lawsuits in both state and federal courts having been unsuccessful, Oxendine filed another lawsuit in February seeking to force the Commission to accept the Administrative Judge’s ruling.
The settlement reached between Oxendine and the Ethics Commission brings this ever-enduring and contentious matter to a close.
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