When At First The Ox Does Not Succeed, He Must Fail, Fail Again.
John Oxendine’s first attempt to shake down Lynn Westmoreland didn’t go so well. The result was a bit of a political dust up and mostly just a little more embarrassment to a man that apparently has no shame.
But instead of leaving well enough alone, Ox has decided to double down on stupid, and has drawn many others into the PR debacle surrounding his investigation into the failed Southeastern US Insurance, formerly owned by Clark Fain. Fox5 in Atlanta ran a story this week showing that many Georgia politicians, including Governor Sonny Perdue, have enjoyed hunting trips complete with flights to them on Fain’s private plane.
Behind the scenes, some are getting nervous about the reflection on the Republican party as a whole, and it was under this guise that Matt Towery called Congressman Westmoreland last week emphatically telling him he had to drop his claims against Oxendine. Towery documented the number of politicians connected with SEUS and numerous claims were made about the issue taking the whole party down. For the good of the party, Lynn needed to stand down.
The curious thing about this phone call, however, is that it was made from the office of one John Oxendine. According to two of my sources, Oxendine was in the room and listened to the call.
This story grows even more bizarre when put into context with this Insider Advantage story that Matt Towery suffered a head wound a couple of weeks ago, and almost died. The story includes this surreal paragraph indicating that a team of old line Republicans apparently are credited with his ongoing medial care:
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (for whom Towery served as political chairman during his years as Speaker), former Senator Mattingly, and current Senator Johnny Isakson (with whom Towery is very close) have basically joined legislators such as former Speaker Mark Burkhalter and former Rules Chair Earl Ehrhart to see to it that Towery makes a full recovery. Former Governor Roy Barnes intervened as well to assist Towery as did Attorney General Baker. Speaker Ralston and former Speaker Richardson also both assisted.
The story seems to be placed as pre-emptive damage control, as the incident happened “several weeks ago”, but the call to Westmoreland happened one week ago, and the IA story ran Monday. After all, Towery was suffering from a concussion, and he’s beloved by the old Republican guard. So, let’s just pretend the call didn’t happen and call a do-over I guess…
The question remains as to why Towery allowed himself to be dragged into the middle of this. He generally is considered to be a bright man, and understands that Ox is on the verge of toxic. So why was Towery calling a Congressman who gave exactly one interview on this topic weeks ago asking him to stand down? Why was this call made with Oxendine present?
I guess if I was being asked these questions, I would add Dick Pettys’ name to a story I wrote claiming I had a bad head injury too.
It should be clear to all now who are paying attention that Oxendine is no longer interested in serving the people of Georgia, but is instead interested in how the power of his office can serve him. Stories like this are beyond embarrassing, and when the story behind the story comes out, it always gets worse.
It is time for State Republican leaders, elected and grass roots alike, to say enough to John Oxendine. He should resign as Insurance Commissioner, and he should withdraw from the Governor’s race.