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Rome insurers challenge ethics panel’s Oxendine subpoenas
Two Rome-based insurance companies have gone to court to challenge investigators’ demand for documents related to $120,000 in potentially improper contributions to Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine’s bid for governor.
State Mutual Insurance Co. and Admiral Life Insurance Co. of America contend the State Ethics Commission overreached its authority when it subpoenaed the records. They also argue that two commission members should disqualify themselves because they are believed to support another candidate for governor.
The insurers filed a motion, received by the commission yesterday, asking a Fulton County Superior Court judge to block the subpoenas. A hearing had been scheduled for Thursday, June 3, but will apparently be postponed until next week.
Oxendine’s camp has squawked about the commission’s scheduling of a hearing in the case for later this month, several weeks before the Republican primary for governor. Ethics officials said they might have been able to hold the hearing sooner if the various parties had cooperated with its investigation.
The insurance companies, which are both operated by businessman Delos “Dee” Yancey III, gave a total of $120,000 in 2008 to 10 Alabama political action committees that in turn donated the money to Oxendine’s campaign fund. The Ethics Commission is investigating the money trail to determine whether the transactions were intended to circumvent Georgia’s limits on campaign giving.
Oxendine’s campaign returned the money after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution broke the story a year ago. The insurance commissioner had said he did not realize the money came from a common source, even though the donations arrived on the same dates in 2008 from the same address in Birmingham, Ala.