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Georgia ranks dead last on ethics, integrity scorecard

Georgia ranks dead last on ethics, integrity scorecard
March 19, 2012 --

Georgia law books are chock-full of statutes written to curtail undue influence on political activity and public policy. So utilities and insurance companies can’t give to a candidate seeking an office that regulates them. Legislators can’t take political donations while in session. Politicians can’t use campaign money for personal benefit. State workers can’t accept gifts from vendors or lobbyists.

Except when they can.

Time and again, Georgia journalists and watchdog groups have found that money finds a way to flow around those laws. These and similar findings underscore what can sometimes be a gaping divide between Georgia’s legal standards for public accountability, on the one hand, and everyday practice. In a new, state-by-state analysis of ethics and accountability practices, Georgia ranks 50th with a grade of F from the State Integrity Investigation.

We all want tax credits, but who are THESE guys?

December 12, 2011 --

A blog about public records …

Tracking down the investors who want Georgia to give them $125 million in tax credits isn’t as easy as it should be. A walk through online disclosures identifies some of the suits who hope to be getting some of that.

AG collected $696K from donors regulated by ethics panel

AG collected $696K from donors regulated by ethics panel
August 3, 2011 --

Attorney General Sam Olens – who’s taking on a larger role in investigations of public officials, political action committees and lobbyists — has raised more than a third of his campaign money from public officials, PACs, lobbyists and their clients. Donors include parties in high-profile inquiries into possible misuse of campaign funds or receipt of improper contributions.“There is always a potential for a conflict,” acknowledged Josh Belinfante, vice chairman of the campaign finance commission, “but I don’t think … that means a conflict exists.”

Oxendine postponing refunds of campaign cash

Oxendine postponing refunds of campaign cash
January 18, 2011 --

Jan. 18, 2011 — Under Georgia law, candidates must give back campaign donations for an election they don’t ultimately qualify for. It just doesn’t say when. That provision — some might call it a loophole — may leave John Oxendine with a half-million-dollar legal defense fund to fight pending ethics charges. But Oxendine’s access to that money relies on a somewhat tenuous interpretation of Georgia’s campaign finance law.

Insurance firms: ‘No control’ over $120K donated to Oxendine

Insurance firms: 'No control' over $120K donated to Oxendine
December 3, 2010 --

A Georgia insurance company had no inkling that $120,000 in political donations would wind up almost immediately in the campaign of Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, the State Ethics Commission was told Thursday. The commission is considering whether to advance or dismiss an ethics case against the company and an affiliate, both run by Delos W. Yancey III, a friend and hunting buddy of Oxendine’s. No decision is expected until early next year.

Fulton judge clears way for Oxendine ethics hearing

Fulton judge clears way for Oxendine ethics hearing
July 16, 2010 --

The State Ethics Commission has every right to issue subpoenas as it investigates ethics allegations against gubernatorial candidate John Oxendine, a judge ruled today. The decision clears the way for investigators to get a better idea of any communication between 10 Alabama political action committees and the source of $120,000 in apparently illegal political contributions.

Ethics panel cancels Oxendine hearing, waits on judge’s ruling

Ethics panel cancels Oxendine hearing, waits on judge's ruling
June 21, 2010 --

Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine’s much-awaited ethics hearing was postponed today, but it may still be held before the July 20 Republican primary.

Rome insurers challenge ethics panel’s Oxendine subpoenas

Rome insurers challenge ethics panel's Oxendine subpoenas
June 2, 2010 --

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 […]

Oxendine gets advisory opinion as probe of $120K continues

Oxendine gets advisory opinion as probe of $120K continues
June 23, 2009 --

Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine may be personally off the hook for accepting $120,000 in campaign funds from two Alabama-based political action committees, according to language in a new opinion from the State Ethics Commission. But the opinion does not directly address the amount of the contributions, which may have far exceeded limits set by state […]

Oxendine: Who knew $120,000 came from same source?

Oxendine: Who knew $120,000 came from same source?
May 12, 2009 --

On New Year’s Eve last year, Georgia gubernatorial candidate John Oxendine pocketed $100,000 in campaign contributions from donors in Alabama. Of that, $70,000 came from political action committees that listed the same Birmingham post office box as their address. Committees listing the same street address in Birmingham chipped in the other $30,000. Three months earlier, […]