Why I Think Perdue’s Proposal To Appoint The Insurance Commissioner Has Merit.

February 18, 2010 9:45 am

by Buzz Brockway · 72 comments

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.

Mayonnaise February 18, 2010 at 9:49 am

Can we make it retro to 1994?

griftdrift February 18, 2010 at 9:54 am

The brazen nature of those comments is simply astounding.

Icarus February 18, 2010 at 9:54 am

Damn.

Just Damn.

NorthGAGOP February 18, 2010 at 9:57 am

Shocked, just plain shocked.

Progressive Dem February 18, 2010 at 10:05 am

Brutally honest and stupid.

Icarus February 18, 2010 at 10:10 am

Or brutally stupid and honest.

trainsplz February 18, 2010 at 10:28 am

hehe

LoyaltyIsMyHonor February 18, 2010 at 10:11 am

I’m glad he said it. People need to hear it. The same holds true for Labor Commissioner and School Super. Let future Governors form a cabinet. Then let voters hold the Governor accountable. The current setup is dysfunctional.

polisavvy February 18, 2010 at 10:16 am

Amen, Loyalty, amen.

ByteMe February 18, 2010 at 10:32 am

I’m also glad he said it. Was obvious he thinks the position shouldn’t be elected because of just the problems he states.

As for school super: I think there should be a board made up of the heads of the state universities and colleges along with 3 people appointed by the governor (one from north, one from middle, one from south). Let that board hire a COO for the DofEd and that should take most of the crazy politics right out of the position.

What political function does labor commissioner serve??

Republican Lady February 18, 2010 at 11:43 am

Oxendine has “gone native” meaning he no longer represents the people who voted him in but is in the position for his personal gain. He appears to look out for those he considers friends and to punish those he considers enemies. If he is 41 now, then he was elected when he was 25, fresh out of college and with no practical experience to grow into his job. He has consistently abused the inherent power that comes with the position. While I agree he needs to go, I also believe there needs to be an investigation into his practices and if he has violated any laws, state or federal, then he needs jail time.

As for the school board, who are the three extra people? Taxpayers? If so, I agree.

Also, after glaring problems with the DOT made public, that agency needs stronger oversight.

What say you?

polisavvy February 18, 2010 at 11:50 am

You are right on track, Republican Lady. I agree with you on all points. He does need to be investigated as to his antics and tactics. He seems to admit, in his own words, a form of abuse of power.

ByteMe February 18, 2010 at 1:56 pm

The other three would likely be political cronies with an interest or ties in education. Gotta throw the guv a bone, though, or the proposal doesn’t fly. And it provides a way for the local taxpayers in each region to meet with their appointed education rep (unlike now, when you don’t really have anyone to talk with).

And DOT’s problem isn’t “oversight”, it’s structure. Each congressional district gets equal money and the money that comes from gas taxes is the primary funding source and can only be used to lay more asphalt. What’s wrong with this picture? It’s constitutionally screwed up.

Republican Lady February 18, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Must have had a blonde moment, no offense to other blondes please.

I meant what you said about the constitutional aspect even though that is not what my words said. In other words, DOT needs to be completely overhauled from the ground up.

ByteMe February 18, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Yep. But the only way it happens is to define a workable structure that the enough of the legislature will agree with and then sell it to the voters, because it’ll need to be an amendment to the constitution instead of just a new law.

Ramblinwreck February 18, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Not sure I’m comfortable with bureaucrats hiring bureaucrats or bureaucrats appointing their cronies. This setup does not increase accountability, it decreases it. How do you hold a board of unelected academic bureaucrats accountable for results? You can’t vote them out and they can’t because nobody will have the guts to do so.

ByteMe February 18, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Sounds like you aren’t clear on how university presidents get their jobs or keep them for that matter.

drjay February 18, 2010 at 2:43 pm

i thought that had to do with the performance of the football team…

Ramblinwreck February 18, 2010 at 3:38 pm

I understand very well how they get their jobs and lose them. I can’t remember the last time one of them lost a job due to incompetence. They all just seem to move on without any penalty for screwing up. Of course I could be wrong. Having them oversee the choice of the person in charge of primary education I don’t think would change anything.

ByteMe February 18, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Please name names. Which University President has screwed up exactly how and kept his/her job? No more generalities, come clean with your allegations.

Doug Deal February 18, 2010 at 4:30 pm

The only college President I know of getting the boot was Pat Crecine. He was forced out, but I do not think it was for incompetence, more or less for stepping on the toes of academic faculty members which also drew the ire of the pompous self selecting “elite” portion of the student body.

Kellie February 18, 2010 at 2:29 pm

You vote out the person/gov. who put them there. Then the new Gov picks a new group. ;-)

debbie0040 February 18, 2010 at 10:15 am

http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wabe/news.newsmain?action=article&ARTICLE_ID=1613453

I don’t think it is self righteous to want to vote on Constitutional positions or want to hold people accountable. The Republicans in South Carolina are proposing something similar to the re-structure Gov. Perdue has proposed. Have to wonder what group is advising them to do this. Still researching to see if other states led by Republicans are doing the same…

I, like Buzz, have deep concerns about the Insurance Commissioner. I think we need reform in that department, but the Insurance Commissioner should still be elected. If the Governor is allowed to appoint Insurance Commissioner, the donations will just be given to the governor instead of the Insurance Commissioner.

Austin Scott has proposed a bill that would limit contributions to the Insurance Commissioner.
http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2009_10/sum/hb1166.htm

polisavvy February 18, 2010 at 10:19 am

After Ox’s admission, if ever this bill is going to pass, it should be now. I am still stunned that anyone in his position would make such a stupid statement. The problem is, the statement probably has/had validity and people have contributed to him because of fear of retaliation.

polisavvy February 18, 2010 at 10:43 am

As an aside, it’s kind of ironic that Scott’s bill was introduced before the Governor’s big plan and it wasn’t even mentioned by Buzz?

NorthGAGOP February 18, 2010 at 10:51 am

Two totally different things.
Scott’s bill is playing politics, and limiting fundraising, which may not even be constitutional.

Sonny’s bill is focused on restructuring government.

polisavvy February 18, 2010 at 10:57 am

It is totally politics? Think about it. He tried to get a bill similar to this one past last year. Also, I think the bill approaches more of a “regulator should not be taking money from those he regulates” (and after Ox’s own admission, could quite possibly be a very valid point to raise).

Just so you know, I know the difference between Sonny’s idea and Scott’s proposed bill. While they may be different, they both focus on a problem with a position like Insurance Commissioner and the undue influence/pressure that could be used in performing the duties of the position and getting ready for the next election cycle.

polisavvy February 18, 2010 at 12:30 pm

I certainly hope my post to you was not received as though I was being rude or snide, I was just wanting to express that there is a correlation between what the Governor is wanting to do and Representative Scott is trying to do. That is, apparently Oxendine has been allowed to run his office unchecked by anyone, and finally people are starting to realize that there could be problems with this position being allowed to go unchecked any longer. Both of these men and their ideas signal that there are problems or potential problems which are going on with no oversight. Perhaps the Governor being the one to take the heat for whatever the Insurance Commissioner does is not a bad thing; also, it is probably not a bad thing for the regulator to not be allowed to squeeze money from the ones he regulates.

LoyaltyIsMyHonor February 18, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Poli, you are too civilized and polite for this blog :)

polisavvy February 18, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Sorry, Loyalty. Guess it’s my upbringing. I just thought about it after I posted and didn’t want to have him think I was coming across as snide. Should I become mean, nasty, rude, and cynical? Oh, trust me, I can be one when I need to be, just ask my husband.

NorthGAGOP February 18, 2010 at 1:57 pm

I didn’t think you were being snide or rude. backing the wrong candidate ;) But not snide or rude.

polisavvy February 18, 2010 at 3:33 pm

You crack me up NorthGAGOP. That’s what cool about you — you’ll TELL me I’m backing for the wrong person and I’ll THINK you are backing the wrong person; but, at least we can be civil with one another. :)

polisavvy February 18, 2010 at 3:35 pm

You crack me up NorthGaGOP! :) You’ll TELL me I’m supporting the wrong person and I’ll THINK you are supporting the wrong person; but, we still manage to be civil with one another.

polisavvy February 18, 2010 at 3:36 pm

I apologize for the double post — don’t know what happened.

Republican Lady February 18, 2010 at 9:12 pm

Polisavvy,

You are way too nice but I bet you can have a mean streak when pushed to the limit. I for one, don’t wanna find out.

polisavvy February 18, 2010 at 9:26 pm

Trust me, Republican Lady, it’s not pretty! I just choose to be nice so I don’t raise my blood pressure; however, that’s difficult here some days. Have you seen the latest in the AJC (this is not the same article they ran this morning)? They have a speech that Ox made to a group of auto insurance execs where he says “I’m the incumbent. You all are going to give me money because you’re afraid not to.” Go read it. Quite interesting. He can deny but he will lie! His goose is cooked!!

Republican Lady February 18, 2010 at 9:35 pm

There is a brand new post just five minutes ago with more on OX. It is totally unbelievable.

polisavvy February 18, 2010 at 9:44 pm

This is the craziest story I have ever witness unravel before my very eyes. This guy is terrible. He needs to just go the hell away and the sooner the better. There is no defense for his actions — all of them. It’s like a made for tv movie, isn’t it?

Game Fan February 20, 2010 at 8:48 pm

“The Republicans in South Carolina are proposing something similar to the re-structure Gov. Perdue has proposed. Have to wonder what group is advising them to do this. Still researching to see if other states led by Republicans are doing the same…”

“McLegislation”? Lobbyists? Wonder what Gary Black thinks about this bill? (for the new reader I’m a Republican who voted for Tommy Irvin)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uaf1lyaqgSI

polisavvy February 18, 2010 at 10:15 am

Ox is probably one of the most arrogant politicians I have seen in a long time. His true colors are coming out and from his own words. He needs to just go away. He’d make one crooked Governor. Let’s hope people wake up.

Bucky Plyler February 18, 2010 at 10:19 am

Is Jeff Chapman looking better yet?

Technocrat February 18, 2010 at 10:29 am

Oh my God a truthful Politican, what is Georgia becoming?

drjay February 18, 2010 at 11:06 am

generally speaking, i’m not sure how i feel about having these folks appointed, or the continuing piling on, on oxendine.

although–maybe we should elect a school board statewide (kinda like the psc) and they should appoint a super, sort of along the lines of what counties do…

Chris Huttman February 18, 2010 at 11:07 am

The tea partiers sure are an interesting bunch. As far as I know, they aren’t calling for more constitutional officers to be added, which means in this case this “angry” bunch wants the status quo to be preserved.

Probably the only time they’ve been for the status quo.

drjay February 18, 2010 at 11:10 am

i think it’s more they interp it as a power grab on the part of the guv, which would tend to rile them p…

Sign Guy February 18, 2010 at 12:58 pm

When the status quo is keeping the decision closer to the people and change means putting more power into the hands of politicians then yes, we, the tea partiers, are going to be for the status quo everytime. Not exactly rocket science.

We’re an angry mob, have a nice day.

GOPGeorgia February 19, 2010 at 2:52 am

+1

Chris February 18, 2010 at 1:27 pm

You Sir, have a valid point.

Why do we elect the Insurance Commissioner, but not the head of the Dept of Community affairs. Why is the Ag Commissioner elected, but the head the the Georgia Technology Authority appointed?

griftdrift February 18, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Here’s another one Chris. Why do we appoint instead of elect the DHC commish and the DOC commish? They only control significant chunks of the budget but arguably have the potential greatest impacts on citizens (i.e. imprisonment, saving children from abuse).

Chris February 18, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Eeek. I can see an elected DOC commish being like that jackass out in NewMexico/Arizona who makes his prisoners wear pink underwear.

Mozart February 18, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Why do we have a Georgia Constitution that spells-out these silly requirements? Let’s just vote to abolish it and then we can go back to making-up stuff as we go. Just like we did in 1735.

Republican Lady February 19, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Love your dog. What is it? Mine is a Lhasa.

Kellie February 20, 2010 at 7:32 am

Thread jack! No doggie talk! lol ;-)

Republican Lady February 20, 2010 at 7:40 am

Oh puleeze! See how cute I am? I wanna see other cuties like me! Looka at my face. I wish my owner would give me a diamond studded collar but she won’t.

Kellie February 20, 2010 at 8:25 am

Maybe I should change my picture to a dog or a cartoon since no one around here will put up a REAL picture. Heck they won’t even use their real name most of the time. ;-)
Grift has a picture of himself but he has been holding that same beer for years. I think he is now close to 70 years old. ;-)

BuckheadConservative February 18, 2010 at 2:35 pm

There is a lot there, but the money shot is definitely:

“I am a politician…. I’m going to do what I think is going to get me reelected.”

Well see that again.

Daniel N. Adams February 18, 2010 at 2:42 pm

I’ve never understood the need for a Insurance Commissioner at all.

Whether elected or appointed, the insurance companies “pay to play.” If there were no Commissioner and the protective barriers from competition from other and/or new insurance companies were removed (which is what they’re really paying for/to keep in place) , the insurance companies would have to answer to their customers ( and potential future customers). The focus of who to “pay to play” would be them/the client or customer… and doesn’t that sound more like the way it ought to be?

ByteMe February 18, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Yeah, the market soooo doesn’t work that way. You act like businesses are “rational” and “look out for their customer” instead of themselves. Silly you. Has nothing that’s happened in the past 2 years sunk in yet? Do you really think it’s all the government’s fault and not one iota a failure of business ethics that caused the financial markets melted down?

LoyaltyIsMyHonor February 18, 2010 at 4:04 pm

True. A lot has changed since they buried Adam Smith.

Daniel N. Adams February 18, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Silly you. Has nothing that’s happened in the past 2 years sunk in yet?

The last 2 years government has bailed out companies that failed, punished the ones that were successful (and continue to do so) and also continue to protect and reward the ones, that silly you, think are the problem (nobody wants socialized medicine more than big pharma/big insurance/big business and big controlling gov in general)…. I digress, There is no accountability in either corporatism that the R’s practice or the socialism that the D’s want. I can guarantee you, in a real “free market”, there would be…. but control freaks and those currently in power fear freedom too much to allow it.

What has sunk in is that we continue to see that government can not fix government caused problems; they only create bigger and /or new ones, that the masses are then convinced need more government involvement. It’s a vicious cycle. For those of us that see it; it’s like watching our personal liberty and this country’s potential prosperity being flushed… left side of the toilet, then right side of the toilet,… left,… right.. Left.. Right… round and down it continues to go…

polisavvy February 18, 2010 at 5:30 pm

This is one of the best posts I have seen in a while.

ByteMe February 18, 2010 at 6:24 pm

And yet you want businesses to run amok and take the rest of us down with them. You still haven’t learned the right lessons from the past 2 years. You really think it’s about politics and not about business it’s always been practiced, which means you’re too young to know better.

Republican Lady February 19, 2010 at 12:35 am

I don’t have a financial educational background like you appear to have, just politics and law but don’t you think the downfall started with the CEO’s of Enron, Worldcom, Tyco (I think) and people like Bernie Madoff?

I’ve tried to research it and it seems to a lay person like me that these CEO’s and the prolonged Iraq war, along with the overinflated housing boom was the start of how we ended up in this economic crisis.

What say you?

ByteMe February 19, 2010 at 6:08 am

It’s all inter-connected, but you could always start with (pick one or more):

– AIG being counter-party to hundreds of billions of derivatives (basically, financial insurance policies) that they couldn’t honor if they all went south at the same time;

– The “Big 6″ (now 4) investment firms who felt that they should be able to leverage themselves as high as they wanted so that even a 3% loss in their investments would wipe out their entire capital base (including federally insured depositors, leaving the taxpayers holding the bag);

– Mortgage brokers and banks who only had to make sure their housing loan clients would pay the mortgage for 90 days before they were off the hook for the outcome (because the “Big 6″ investment firms could bundle those loans into securities that they would then sell… although they didn’t sell all of them, which is how they came to lose so much money at once);

– Bond rating agencies who were paid by the investment firms to close their eyes and give these loans bundle securities “AAA” ratings even though they didn’t understand them, but without the AAA rating, the securities couldn’t be purchased by many of the investment bank clients (like pension funds, who had loaded up on them in order to get a stable AAA-rated income stream for their pensioners and, oh, by the way, those pensions are also federally guaranteed, so we’re on the hook for those as well).

The worst thing you could say about “government” is that they created the rules to let this happen and then bailed out the mess that business created. DNA is trying to propose that business would have been fine had government got out of the way and not bailed out the federally insured depositors or the pensions by covering the bank’s debt (which was cheaper than the trillions the depositors/pensions would have lost had the debts gone unpaid).

On the other hand, I’m old enough to have a father who lived through the depression when government didn’t back-stop the banks. He was very clear on what that was like. And how much better off we all were back then… not.

Republican Lady February 19, 2010 at 9:22 am

Thanks for your comments. Two things that bore me and I need to change my attitude about are insurance and finance.

My mom was born during the Depression and was a teen during WWII. She said times seems worse now than it was then.

Her take is the nation got into financial trouble when credit card debt became the norm instead of people saving to pay cash for cars and half to more cash for homes. I feel the, “I want it now,” mentality is a large factor also.

ByteMe February 19, 2010 at 10:08 am

Insurance still bores me :)

Your mom might be forgetting about all the food rationing during WW2 and the daily reminder that the men in your neighborhood could leave in a shiny pressed uniform to go to war and never come back. My dad served in it and made a point of trying to forget.

The explosion in debt started in the early 1980’s. I’m thinking it fueled the 28-year bull run that ran out of gas in 2000 (as opposed to the Reagan Mythologizers who want to say it was lower taxes while forgetting he also raised taxes twice). And now we as a nation are retrenching, and saving more than we have in 30 years. Sucks for businesses, but it’s the right plan for now.

Doug Deal February 19, 2010 at 11:23 am

RL,

I agree that there is too much of a I want everything now mentality in the world. Personally I believe the biggest single predictor of success might be patience.

GOPGeorgia February 22, 2010 at 9:08 am

Small factual correction: mortgage brokers aren’t on the hook for 90 days when they find a lender for a loan (unless they are changing the law on that now). Mortgage lenders are. Brokers don’t set guidelines or underwrite loans; lenders do.

ByteMe February 22, 2010 at 10:43 am

Correction acknowledged and accepted as fact. Mortgage brokers do not lend the money.

However, they get paid based on the loans they can place, so they have a strong incentive — especially if the lender is not checking their work — to game the system and provide inaccurate or incomplete borrower documentation to the lender to get the loan that only needed to get past the 90 day point and then the broker and lender got paid and everyone was happy… except for the people holding the failing security containing that mortgage.

NOT SAYING YOU DID THIS. But there have been numerous documented cases here and in Florida where this was a big contributor to the overall problem of bad loans being originated.

Mozart February 18, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Why are lobbyists always so maligned in the world? All they do is help people get things done.

Republican Lady February 19, 2010 at 9:24 am

It is the way some of them help with excessive favors, sex, and cash. Not all lobbyists are bad and some of the fault lies with the politican they are courting.

Game Fan February 20, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Sarcasm noted (maybe) but anyhoo… They’re not bad or good, but unless you’re a member of an industry or corporation that they represent, then your interests won’t be the same as theirs. As far as “generalizations” well, uh it’s gotten outta hand there. Multinational corporations pour billions into DC and also the States. Lobbyists are just an easy target. They’re the “face” or the “representative” or the “front man/woman”. Sorry guys. no offense. And “Lobbyists” resonates with the average voter, and as Daniel Adams has alluded to, this stuff ain’t about free markets.

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