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    Oxendine campaign “invested” $237K in his law firm

     

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    By JIM WALLS

    Nov. 9, 2015 — Former Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine took a novel approach to investing his campaign funds, new disclosures show: loaning hundreds of thousands of dollars to his private business.

    In amended disclosures filed Oct. 30, Oxendine said his 2010 bid for governor raised about $175,000 more than he’d previously reported. The new filings also reported that his campaign “invested” $237,000 in leftover funds in his law firm, John Oxendine P.C.

    The campaign loaned the firm $97,000 in January 2013 and $50,000 more the following month — just weeks before Oxendine bought a $965,000 house in north Fulton County. Property records show he borrowed $723,000 from Branch Bank & Trust Co. to purchase the home; no second mortgage has been recorded.

    Later in 2013 and 2014, the campaign loaned the law firm another $90,000, the new disclosures show.

    Oxendine’s attorney, Doug Chalmers, declined to comment when asked whether the loans helped to pay for the house. Oxendine didn’t sell his old home in Duluth until August 2014.

    Each of the campaign loans is marked “investment for return of interest” on the amended filings. Chalmers said Oxendine’s firm paid all the money back — plus nearly $9,000 interest — in October.

    State law allows a political campaign to make investments “of money or capital to gain interest or income” if it discloses them in the next reporting cycle.

    The law forbids candidates, though, from treating campaign funds as personal assets.

    It is unclear whether the campaign drew up documents specifying the collateral or interest rate for the loans or when the money had to be paid back.

    The amended disclosures track bank statements since January 2011 “to the penny” that show how much money was in the campaign’s bank account, Chalmers said.

    Oxendine did not amend earlier disclosures to show how the campaign wound up with so much more money than previously reported. Original filings showed the account closed 2010 with a balance of about $566,000; an amended disclosure filed last month revised that amount to $742,000.

    Oxendine finished fourth in the 2010 GOP primary for governor, missing out on the runoff and general elections. He filed amended disclosures after the Campaign Finance Commission alleged he had failed to return money raised for those elections and had accepted more than $164,000 in donations over the legal limit.

    Chalmers contends Oxendine did nothing wrong and has moved for the commission to dismiss its complaint. A hearing is tentatively scheduled for December.

     

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