Echols to Join Oxendine Campaign as New Campaign Manager

June 26, 2009 15:30 pm

by General Jack D. Ripper · 125 comments

From the Political Insider:

We’ve learned that Republican candidate for governor John Oxendine will name a new campaign manager — Tim Echols, a conservative Christian organizer who helped U.S. Rep. Paul Broun of Athens win his seat.

This is the first staff shake-up by a candidate in the 2010 race, which has already been underway for more than a year.

“There are some similarities between Oxendine and Broun,” Echols said. “When a guy is willing to take on the establishment — I’m really drawn to people like that.”

Echols will replace Kathryn Ballou, who will shift to head a separate Oxendine support group, Transform Georgia. Her husband, Jeff Breedlove, will remain as a chief strategist for Oxendine.

Echols is the founder of TeenPact, an organization that introduces kids — often home-schooled — to the workings of government. He’ll remain as president of the TeenPact board, we understand.

Echols, who gave some thought to a run for the state Senate to replace Ralph Hudgens (R-Hull) this year, was a significant player in this year’s fight to defeat Sunday sales of beer and wine in the Legislature.

Jason Shepherd June 28, 2009 at 2:19 pm

So Alan, John Oxendine should have ordered Ivy to quit her career since she was already working for BC/BS when they met and started dating? Regardless of what appearances you want to create from it, it sounds more self-centered for him to say, “I’ll marry you, but you have to give up everything you have worked for your entire working adult life.”

And if the only other thing you can bring up is that same, old, tired, irrelevant crap about his car going back 13-14 years ago, then that’s pretty sad.

It’s also pretty sad that although I have been labelled such a hard-core Oxendine supporter that I am constantly accused of being on the Oxendine payroll, I’m probably the only one on here who has ever expressed my support for one candidate, but has never felt the need to trash any of the others, even when they have opened themselves up to criticism in the press.

South Fulton Guy June 28, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Actually they were blue lights not fire engine red:

Oxendine’s ready to take the wheel
Tom Crawford
POSTED Dec. 17, 2008 5 a.m.

If there’s one lesson that John Oxendine should have learned by now, it’s that cars and politics don’t mix.

Georgia’s insurance commissioner, who is hard at work on a 2010 campaign for governor, has had more than his share of misfortune caused by his involvement with official state vehicles.

Shortly after he first took office as insurance commissioner in 1995, Oxendine ran his state-issued vehicle off the road and crashed into some trees in Gwinnett County, causing damages estimated at $17,000. He told police that he had swerved the car to avoid hitting a deer.

A few years later, when he was at the wheel of a state car equipped with blue lights and a siren (Oxendine also serves as the state fire marshal), he had the lights flashing and was weaving through traffic on Interstate 285 when he crashed into a pickup truck. As a result of this accident, it cost nearly $7,000 to repair the truck and the Crown Victoria was totaled at a cost to taxpayers of $18,000.

“People go years and years without a situation, and then have strings of bad luck,” Oxendine was quoted in media accounts at the time. “Accidents are accidents.”

Oxendine claimed that this particular accident happened because he was rushing to get to his capitol office after a fire alarm had forced an evacuation of the building. The truthfulness of that statement was investigated by both the GBI and the attorney general’s office.

Investigators later concluded that Oxendine had used his emergency blue light on several occasions to get around traffic and avoid being late to social functions, including one dinner engagement with his son.

These “repeated misuses” of emergency equipment prompted Attorney General Thurbert Baker to recommend that Oxendine’s emergency privileges be revoked.

“Every time you flip on that blue light, you can potentially create a situation of danger out there on the highway,” Baker said, adding that with Oxendine “there clearly seems to be a pattern of abuse.”

Oxendine subsequently removed the blue lights and sirens from his cars and requested that his permits be “deactivated.” The state Board of Public Safety voted formally in 2001 to rescind his permits to operate emergency lights and sirens. Newspaper columnists also started referring to the insurance commissioner as “Crash” Oxendine.

You would think that after two high-profile accidents Oxendine would go out of his way to avoid any other incidents with state vehicles. But no. In 2003, Oxendine spent $25,322 in taxpayer funds on yet another Crown Victoria, including $6,363 for extras like leather seats, a CD player and a “pursuit suspension” package. This purchase occurred after he had been instructed not to buy the vehicle because of the state’s budget problems.

After reviewing the circumstances surrounding the vehicle purchase, the state inspector general’s office reported: “Commissioner Oxendine’s actions were in blatant disregard for established authority. When informed that he would not be allowed to purchase his automobile, his response was, in general, ‘Try and stop me.”

Oxendine eventually reimbursed the state for the vehicle but also issued this defiant statement: “I have stated publicly my disagreement with the report’s findings of fact and conclusions. Although this office is not bound by the opinion of the Office of Inspector General, I have decided to purchase this vehicle personally and donate it to the Georgia Department of Insurance to finally resolve this matter and demonstrate this office’s commitment to fiscal responsibility.”

As he gets deeper into the 2010 governor’s race, it appears that Oxendine has retained his taste for high-priced transportation. His initial disclosure report shows that Oxendine spent $36,933 from his campaign account on June 30 to buy what was described as a “campaign auto.” The vehicle was identified as a 2007 GMC Denali, a luxury SUV that can cost as much as $58,785 when new.

Oxendine’s aides say the purchase and use of the SUV will be in accord with all the applicable campaign finance laws, but you can bet that one of Oxendine’s critics will, at some point, try to file an ethics complaint and stir up a controversy about it.

Since the insurance commissioner obviously likes those expensive cars, my advice to the other candidates in the governor’s race is this: buckle your seatbelts and check your rear-view mirror. You could be in for a bumpy ride.

Tom Crawford is the editor of Capitol Impact’s Georgia Report, an Internet news service at http://www.gareport.com that covers government and politics in Georgia. He can be reached at [email protected] .

BobinBuckhead June 28, 2009 at 6:03 pm

Wow, I’m relatively new to Georgia, but this guy Oxendine sounds like an absolutely perfect fit. I predict he’ll win easily.

Jason Shepherd June 28, 2009 at 10:39 pm

One thing that is not told in the article in 2002 is Oxendine was driving a car that had roughly 125,000 miles on it. He passed that car down to one of his arson inspectors who was driving a car with, I believe, closer to 300,000 miles and bought the new car out of the Dept. of Insurance’s budget after Roy Barnes, who has a lame duck at that time having already lost to Perdue, denied the request to purchase a new car through DOAS. The car he passed down had a police intercepted package and so did the new one because at some point it would also likely be passed down to one of Oxendine’s arson or insurance fraud agents.

The budget didn’t stop other state officials at the time from purchasing Eddie Bauer Edition Ford Explorers, which cost more than $10,000 more than Oxendine’s car, but that was never covered because it did not fit into the running gag about Oxendine and his cars.

Bill Simon June 28, 2009 at 11:50 pm

The budget didn’t stop other state officials at the time from purchasing Eddie Bauer Edition Ford Explorers, which cost more than $10,000 more than Oxendine’s car, but that was never covered because it did not fit into the running gag about Oxendine and his cars.

And, Crawford is pretty well known for taking short-cuts on story-covering…

bartsimpsonisdaman June 29, 2009 at 8:41 am

Oh Dear Bill Simon you say I am spouting lies? Before you trash me you better get your facts straight.

Wonder where your main wife swapping insurance commissioner was heading with his big blue lights?

You big boys like your babes, but I would never in a million years thought the trailer court gang would swap wives…. That’s just too freaky.

AlanR June 29, 2009 at 10:45 am

Well done, Jason. Case closed, except the company asking for a rate increase still controls the compensation of the wife of the person who has absolute power over the decision. The honorable thing to do, Jason, would be for the commissioner to recuse himself, turn the decision over to his deputies or outside counsel, and make a written decision public. But I don’t think John Oxendine is capable of admitting that there is even the appearance of conflict.

As to the old car incident, age not withstanding, it still speaks volumes about the commissioner’s judgement. It is not as though it happened while he was in college, or a very young man. It happened, when? mid term his second term in office?

The same lack of judgement that allowed him to think it was ok to use his emergency equipment for personal use prevents him from seeing the obvious conflict of interest in ruling on rate increases and other regulatory matters involving the company that pays his wife’s salary.

If you don’t see this, then I guess we just disagree.

Bill Simon June 29, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Oh Dear Bill Simon you say I am spouting lies? Before you trash me you better get your facts straight.

Wonder where your main wife swapping insurance commissioner was heading with his big blue lights?

You big boys like your babes, but I would never in a million years thought the trailer court gang would swap wives…. That’s just too freak

Dude, you’re just plain effed-up in the head. NOTHING you write has any cohesion or coherency.

Romegaguy June 30, 2009 at 8:08 am

With Echols’ track record, if Ox is elected will he ever be sworn in?

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 1 trackback }