John Oxendine

John Oxendine

Articleissues
blpdispute = September 2008
cleanup = September 2008
unreferenced = September 2008

John Oxendine (born April 30, 1962) is the current Commissioner of Insurance of the U.S. state of Georgia. Oxendine, a Republican, was first elected in 1994 and reelected in 1998, 2002, and 2006.

Biographical Information

Oxendine is the son of former Judge James W. Oxendine, a longtime Democratic Party activist and the judge's second and now former wife, Louise. He is the stepson of his father's current and third wife, Phyllis. Oxendine received his law degree from Mercer University's Walter F. George School of Law in 1987. He is currently married to his second wife Ivy, and has two stepchildren. John's current wife Ivy, works at Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance of Georgia. Oxendine has a son from his previous marriage, JW, two sisters, Shirley Wayman and Cyndy Oxendine Sluder.

Political career

Early years

Oxendine began his political life as a Democrat, serving as a student assistant to Governor George Busbee. Oxendine later worked on the campaign staff of Joe Frank Harris, who was elected Governor and appointed Oxendine as Chairman of the State Personnel Board.

Election as Insurance Commissioner

In 1993, Oxendine declared himself as a Democratic candidate for Commissioner of Labor. However, then Governor Zell Miller and other Democratic Party leaders rebuffed his candidacy, prompting Oxendine to leave the Democratic Party and become a Republican. Since there was already a Republican candidate for Commissioner of Labor, Oxendine also announced that he would instead run for Insurance Commissioner.

In the 1994 election, Oxendine opposed incumbent Democrat Tim Ryles, a controversial consumer advocate who had strained relations with the business community and his party's leadership. Oxendine chose to avoid these issues and instead presented himself as a "religious family man" via television advertisements. Helped by the Republican takeover of Congress and an independent expenditure by the insurance industry, Oxendine narrowly upset Ryles, winning 50.98% of the vote.

U.S. Senate campaigns

When U.S. Senator Paul Coverdell suddenly died in 2000, Oxendine claimed that he was being "inundated" with calls urging him to run for the open Senate seat. Oxendine decided against running when Republican leaders settled on former U.S. Senator Mack Mattingly as their candidate; Mattingly was defeated by former governor Zell Miller.

In early 2003, Miller announced he would not seek reelection to the Senate, prompting Oxendine to again consider running for the seat. On January 8, 2003, Oxendine told the "Atlanta Business Chronicle" that "We've had countless people across the state asking us to run for the [U.S.] Senate, and I told people I was flattered by their faith in me and that I would consider it. I did consider it to the point of commissioning a poll and the results were every encouraging. It turned out I am one of the best-known and liked politicians in the state." However, after Congressman Johnny Isakson announced his candidacy a month later, Oxendine removed himself from the race saying that he had a "commitment to family and serving out his term as Insurance Commissioner" that would prevent him from running.

Campaign for Lieutenant Governor

In early 2004, Oxendine announced his intent to run for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia in 2006. The announcement met with disapproval from Republican leaders, who felt that his candidacy was premature and was a distraction during the 2004 elections; nevertheless, Oxendine raised approximately $500,000 for his campaign by the end of 2004. In February 2005, after State Senator Casey Cagle and Christian political consultant Ralph Reed joined the race for Lieutenant Governor, Oxendine released [http://www.ajc.com/hp/content/auto/epaper/editions/today/metro_2451793cf310a1b00055.html polling data showing that he led his two opponents.] and reiterated his intent to remain in the race. However, Oxendine withdrew from the race two weeks later and announced that he would run for reelection as Insurance Commissioner instead. Speculation by some observers that Oxendine was leaving open a return to the Lieutenant Governor's race ended when qualifying ended on April 28, 2006. Oxendine later endorsed Cagle, saying that Reed would hurt the ticket.

2006 campaign

Although Oxendine was generally regarded as likely to win re-election as Insurance Commissioner, he faced a significant challenge from Democratic attorney Guy Drexinger. Several other candidates who had considered entering the race amid speculation about Oxendine's plans did not qualify. Drexinger raised substantial funds and was considered to be Oxendine's strongest challenger since Oxendine defeated Ryles in 1994. Georgia seemed almost immune from the anti-Republican sentiment that was prevalent across the rest of the nation. Oxendine soundly defeated Drexinger with 65.6% of the vote and winning 153 of Georgia's 159 counties, including normally Democratic leaning Fulton, Athens-Clarke, Augusta-Richmond and Doughtery Counties. Oxenine's margin was the largest among the Republicans running statewide and has further fueled speculation within the Republican Party on Oxendine's future plans.

Future ambitions

With Gov. Sonny Perdue term limited in 2010, Oxendine has filed paperwork to run for the Republican nomination for Governor. [http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/shared-blogs/ajc/politicalinsider/entries/2008/04/23/the_ox_files_his_paperwork_for.html]

Controversies

In 1996, Oxendine crashed his first state issued Crown Victoria into a tree, claiming he was avoiding a deer. The automobile was totaled and the state's insurance had to write off the loss and purchase a new car for John Oxendine. Charges were never filed, and Oxendine used government funds to purchase himself a new Crown Victoria. This is the first accident of two accidents in which John's explanations are suspicious and misleading.

In a second accident in 1999, Oxendine caused a major accident after he flipped on his blue lights and siren and ran a red light so that he could avoid rush-hour traffic. He crashed into another vehicle, falsely claiming that he was on his way to a "hazardous materials situation." He was not as an investigation proved. A joint investigation by the Attorney General and Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) found multiple events in which Oxendine had misused his state issued emergency equipment and blue light, including routine trips to the airport when he was late checking in for his flights.

In 2001, John was stripped of his permit to use emergency lights and sirens on his state-issued car after the GBI investigation discovered repeated misuses of state property. The report revealed that he had regularly turned on his blue light and siren to get through traffic when he was late for personal appointments. Therefore, the Department of Public Safety revoked Oxendine's emergency light permit and ordered the blue lights be removed from his automobile. It has been seven years, and the state Department of Public Safety refuses to reissue the equipment due to Oxendine's abuse of authority.

In the case that sparked the GBI investigation, the commissioner's taxpayer-funded Crown Victoria was totaled. Oxendine gave a confusing explanation as to why he was driving with his emergency equipment engaged. Since his election in 1994 Mr. Oxendine has had personally destroyed nearly $40,000 worth of state-issued, taxpayer-purchased Ford Crown Victoria luxury, hand picked automobiles

In 2002, Oxendine violated an automobile purchasing moratorium ordered by then Governor Roy Barnes and issued himself Crown Victoria with a luxury upgrade package and other optional features. Oxendine bought a top-of-the-line Crown Victoria with a $633 CD player, $700 leather seats and an $832 "pursuit suspension" package. All told, he racked up $6,363 in upgrades for a grand total of $25,689 -- all for a car that he wasn't even supposed to buy.

In 2003, newly-elected governor Sonny Perdue appointed General James Sehorn as Inspector General to investigate the purchase. [http://oig.georgia.gov/vgn/images/portal/cit_1210/20/9/1974600203-101%20insurance.pdf An investigative report] by the Inspector General accused Oxendine of misusing government funds and directed that he should repay the funds used to the state. Inspector General James Sehorn, which accuses Oxendine of "blatant disregard for established authority,"cite quote

John Oxendine received thousands in campaign contributions from Blue Cross/Blue Shield Insurance executives, his current wife's employer. Guy Drexinger, former candidate for Georgia Insurance Commissioner, strongly criticized Commissioner John Oxendine for accepting large amounts of campaign contributions from Blue Cross/Blue Shield Insurance executives, his current wife's superiors.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield recently released over 200,000 identities to the public in error. As this is a major violation, the insurance company should be fined for its error. Although it has been weeks since the error occurred, Oxendine's office, the Office of Insurance Commissioner, has yet to fine Blue Cross/Blue Shield Insurance. His current and second wife works for Blue Cross/Blue Shield Insurance. When Prudential had violations, Oxendine fined Prudential millions of dollars. No fine has been assessed against his wife's employer despite the release of 200,000 members social security numbers, names, addresses and phone numbers.

External links

* [http://www.workingforgeorgia.com Official John Oxendine campaign website]
* [http://www.gainsurance.org Georgia Department of Insurance website]
* [http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/QuickFacts.jsp?hl=y&id=Current_major_state_officials_and_contact_information&action=openTo#idCurrent_major_state_officials_and_contact_information New Georgia Encyclopedia] .

Persondata
NAME= Oxendine, John
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Insurance Commissioner, Attorney
DATE OF BIRTH= April 30, 1962
PLACE OF BIRTH= Davidson County, Tennessee
DATE OF DEATH=
PLACE OF DEATH=


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