Governor Perdue’s proposal to appoint rather than elect the Insurance, Agriculture, Education, and Labor positions has caused vigorous debate. Erick is on board, but some local Tea Party leaders are vehemently against it.
I like having the ability to elect my statewide officers but I think in the case of the Insurance Commissioner Perdue has a good argument. Take a look at this from the Political Insider. Commissioner Oxendine makes it clear in no uncertain terms that individuals involved in the insurance industry will contribute to him…or else. Could he make a better argument for Perdue’s proposal? I doubt it.
From Fortune Magazine via the Political Insider:
Want an unvarnished look at how Georgia’s Republican insurance commissioner, John Oxendine, 41, views the businesses he oversees? Here, courtesy of a newsletter company, Risk Information, is what Oxendine said at a recent conference it held for auto-insurance managers.
First, Oxendine said, those managers ought to be wary of the 12 states in which the insurance commissioner is elected — Georgia is one of them — because “we are different.” Details: “We are a pain in the butt. We are very high-maintenance…. I am not a professional regulator, I am a politician…. I’m going to do what I think is going to get me reelected.”
Oxendine does believe, he says, that insurers are entitled to a fair and reasonable profit: “I am not one of these Socialists never ever going to give out a rate increase.” But, he said, “you need to realize that you have to find a way to always make me look good in front of the voters.”
As for campaign contributions, he noted he wasn’t allowed to take them from insurance companies, but money from individuals is entirely acceptable. And gettable: “I’m the incumbent. You all are going to give me money because you’re afraid not to.”
Maybe this man had a mother who told him never to lie?
Galloway is awaiting a response from the Oxendine campaign.
Of course the implications of Oxendine’s statements on the Governor’s race are profound but not exactly new. Read Icarus’ post on the Ox v. Westmoreland fiasco for a primer.
UPDATE: Oxendine responds to Galloway:
“The article didn’t tell the whole story. I was commenting on the benefits of having an Insurance Commissioner who is elected, not appointed, and that incumbent officials receive contributions from people who have an interest in that office.”
“Look at the contributors to Mr. Scott’s campaign in the past and I think you’ll see some hypocrisy in his new attitude. The folks that have given to him historically are those PACs and lobbyists who have an interest in the legislation that goes through the committees he sits on. If Scott wants to make changes to the law, he should make the same rules he has proposed apply to legislators and other officials as well.”
UPDATE #2: Here is the full story (pdf file) from the Auto Insurance Report newsletter dated June 9, 2003 where the quotes Galloway used (shown above) originated. I haven’t read it yet so I can’t offer an opinion.