Ox, Towery, And The Rest Of The Story

Friday I posted this item detailing a call from Matt Towery while in John Oxendine’s office to Lynn Westmoreland asking him to stand down on the controversy over the State takeover of Southeastern US Insurance. While I knew most of what follows below, I had not been able to talk to any of the principals involved, so I had to leave out one of the more pertinent, but unverified details.

In addition to his role at Insider Advantage, Towery is of counsel with McKenna Long & Aldridge. While they are generally known to our readers as a lobbying firm, they have a large international legal practice as well.

The client that Towery was representing during his visit to Commissioner Oxendine was Clark Fain, former owner of SEUSI. And therein lies the problem with this phone call.

While as counsel for Mr. Fain, Towery had every right to discuss his client’s legal case with the investigating body, the call to take care of the investigator’s political problem from the investigator’s office, in the presence of that investigator, is a problem.

I talked with Matt Towery this morning by phone. Frankly, he doesn’t sound well, and is still receiving treatment for the concussion he received in the Cayman Islands a couple weeks ago. He initiated the phone call, and it was helpful to understanding his involvement in this situation.

“I wanted you to know you were right” he began. I’ll admit appreciated that.

He stated that he didn’t believe he did anything wrong, as he was in Oxendine’s office to represent his client. He admitted he was not thinking through all the details when he quickly accepted Fain as a client a couple days prior to the Westmoreland call. He had already seen a document where the State of Georgia, signed off on by a representative from Oxendine’s office, has returned some money to Fain. If the state was already returning money to Fain, how could they also truly believe that he was guilty of criminal wrongdoing?

So it was with this in mind that he decided to talk to Oxendine. But since Oxendine was fixated on Lynn Westmoreland, Towery decided he needed to talk to his lifelong friend to see if he could get the Commissioner focused back on his client’s problems. He admits now that was a huge error in judgment, and has penned an article at Insider Advantage to that effect.

Towery realized afterward that he could not separate his roles as an attorney and as a political advisor, and has recused himself from the case. Towery has a long history in Georgia politics, and frankly doesn’t need the money. His sole interest at this point is demonstrating that he is still an objective political analyst, and does not want his ability to do his job compromised.

I accept that Towery’s judgment was clouded that afternoon, and sincerely wish him well as he continues his recovery. But to my knowledge, John Oxendine has not recently suffered head trauma. He should have known that having an attorney of someone his office was investigating solve his pressing political problem of the day crosses every ethical boundary and possibly a legal one.

But whether it is setting up PACs in Alabama to illegally launder campaign funds, or using the investigative authority of your office to silence a political critic, Oxendine has demonstrated he believes he is above the law.

He is unfit to remain as Insurance Commissioner, and any reasonable voter should disqualify him from consideration as our next Governor.


    • polisavvy says:

      Yes, it is refreshing. I agree with you — when is Ox going to do the right thing and just admit that he’s not what’s best for Georgia. It takes a big man to admit his failures — Ox isn’t that big!

  1. polisavvy says:

    I am certainly glad that you cleared this matter up. There are a lot of people who owe you an apology, in my opinion. I have been keeping up with your writings for a while now, and I felt that there was more to the story than met the eye. As a matter of fact, I thought that perhaps it was going to be a multi-part series and even commented to that effect.

    As far as Oxendine goes, he knows (or should know) what is right and what is wrong, and what is going to be perceived as yet another in his series of missteps. Oxendine’s attempt, in my opinion, was just to have a political critic silenced. Too bad it backfired on his stupid arse.

    Thanks again for your clarification.

  2. John Konop says:

    I give Matt credit for standing up and telling the truth! And I hope and pray he is feeling better. As far as OX, as Ricky would say to Lucy, OX has “got some explaining to do”.

    Boy, Can I Be Stupid …

    By Matt Towery

    (2/22/10) Contrary to the blogs, I did, indeed, nearly meet my maker about a month ago when my vertigo hit and my face crashed on the tarmac in Grand Cayman.

    Weeks later, I was asked to represent a client – not against John Oxendine but with his office. Guess what, folks. I get paid good money from my law firm to deal with legal issues. I’m a lawyer! And since I was the senior member of the insurance committee for many years, I sort of know the laws.

    But I made a mistake. John Oxendine is running for governor. I am the pollster for InsiderAdvantage and WSB TV. Seemingly I could have compromised myself even as I did understand it , So the record will reflect John and I got nothing accomplished.
    During the meeting, I made it clear that discussions would have no impact on my polling or analysis of the race for governor. To be fair to John, he immediately agreed and never tried to use the race as a wedge.

    But he was obsessed with Congressman Lynn Westmoreland’s comments. Lynn and I have known each other since we were five years old. I called Lynn on my own cell phone, not asking him to retract what he had said about John; only to ask him to quit talking about it for a while.
    It was not unethical or illegal but in retrospect looked wrong.
    On Saturday, I recused myself from the case. John accepted this to his credit and said thanks. I also called every candidate for governor I could reach. Karen Handel was a peach; she understood and forgave. Same for Roy Barnes. Same for everyone reached.
    Our company is based on being nonpartisan. Do you think Saxby loved it when we had a runoff? We do our job.

    I have every right as a lawyer who wrote most of the modern insurance code to represent a client. But I handled it like a guy with a concussion. Trust me, others in our firm will now handle this matter and I won’t bill a dime of this.

  3. AlanR says:

    Your respect for Matt Towery is appreciated. A more cynical person might conclude that he realized Oxendine is attempting to bully someone who will not be bullied, and is now attempting to cut his loses.

    Towery hoped to solve Oxendine’s problem, and Fain’s problem with one phone call — old boy republican to old boy republican. No one need know. Oxendine gets relief, Fain gets a big break from the Ins Comm office, and Towery and the law firm get a big fee.

    Suppose the call had worked, and an agreement to shut up had been reached?
    When Towery realized that his phone call would not solve Oxendine’s problem and benefit Towery’s client — and the call itself placed Towery in the middle of an ethical jamb that could not just harm his reputation as a political analyst, but damage his law firm and his client, he suddenly discovered he had a conscience after all, and calls that moron — now looking pretty good — Icarus, to explain it all away.

    And that should take care of everything. No harm — no foul. No referral to the disciplinary committee, no complaint to the ethics commission.

    • polisavvy says:

      I agree on how this looks on the surface; however, head injury or not, he should never have gotten involved in this. There have to be people at his firm who realize that he’s not at 100% and should therefore have been taking more of a lead and allowing this poor man to properly recover. You are correct — the damage that could have happen could have been quite significant. Once a law firm’s reputation is tarnished, it’s not shined back up over night.

      I still think that this matter should be looked into though, because as you said, it is an ethical matter, rather made while someone is 100% healthy or not. It is what it is. There was an attempt made to do something that could be construed as unethical. An oops is not quite sufficient enough.

    • Mozart says:

      Alan, if you can find the specific ethics law violated, file away. Otherwise, you’re just spinning wheels in Georgia red clay.

      • polisavvy says:

        I’m not sure if there’s an ethical law that’s been violated; however, when you call someone in the presence of a third party and do not notify the person you called that the third party is privy to the call, that’s not behaving very ethically, is it? I certainly would expect a member of the Bar not to do that.

        • Mozart says:

          I’m fairly certain the Bar has a standard regarding the fact that the first job of an attorney is to zealously defend their client.

          As far as your ethical question, again, find a law or a rule that someone broke, and you’ll have something. Otherwise, you (or Alan or whoever) proclaiming that you think something is “unethical” doesn’t make it so.

          Now Towery may have broken some sort of “friendship” rule, but that is between him and Lynn Westmoreland, and not you or anyone else.

          • polisavvy says:

            I don’t believe it falls in a “standard” category. The only “standard” I use is summed up by two words — honesty and deceit. If you didn’t inform the person on the other end of the phone where you were when placing the call and who was also privy to the call that’s being, in my opinion, dishonest. The deceit comes to mind because you are deceiving the person on the phone into thinking that the call was only between the two of you. A person assumes that when someone calls them that no one else is listening in, or at least I assume that. That’s a fairly common assumption with most people I do believe

            We can debate this issue all day, if you’d like. Apparently, you have one standard of what is acceptable and what is not; and, I have another. Dishonesty and deceit by an attorney is, in my opinion, not exactly totally ethical.

      • polisavvy says:

        While I too take Towery at his word, as far as the beholden part I’m not so sure. People need to remind themselves that Oxendine is represented by Stefan Passantino of McKenna, Long & Aldridge for his ethics problems, and that’s where Towery presently works.

        • Mozart says:

          I read this earlier from you, Poli, and I got to thinking that you may have something here. After all, Eric Tannenblatt also works for McKenna, Long & Aldridge, and he is a big supporter of Karen Handel.

          Randy Evans also works for McKenna, Long and he is on the state elections board.

          I think there is a HUGE conspiracy here between Tannenblatt and who he supports (Handel), and Passantino and who he obviously supports (the Ox), and Randy Evans on the state elections board. I think you may have uncovered the biggest elections plot of the century and how one law firm is like this mysterious group of obviously evil-intentioned people are laying the ground work to control every facet of Georgia’s future.

          • polisavvy says:

            I don’t know whether or not you are joking or serious; with you it’s kind of hard to tell. However, I just think that there is more to the story that Icarus uncovered than has met the eye to date. That’s all I’m saying. As far as plots go, I never said that. As far as mentioning ML&A in an unfavorable light, I did not do that. I simply stated what I knew to be true that Ox is represented by ML&A and that Towery works at ML&A, and that I felt that there is still something untoward going on with the whole Westmoreland saga. I knew nothing about Tanneblatt being a supporter of Handel, and don’t care if he is — that’s he prerogative. That’s all I was saying so please don’t try to turn this into me bashing a particular law firm or insinuating that they are doing anything wrong or illegal. That’s simply not the case.

            Having worked in law firms for many years, and having worked at the largest law firm for ten years, if you think that there is not political pull with some of the larger firms in Atlanta, you’re a little misinformed (or maybe you already know). Why do you think that so many former politicians end up at these larger firms? There’s a reason.

          • Mozart says:

            Poli, I was tongue-in-cheek all the way on that particular post.

            However, the more I think about this whole saga, and the fact that it wasn’t what Icarus originally claimed on Friday (i.e., that it was some nefarious thing Oxendine was doing), the more I think this “story” isn’t any of our business or related to anything in the Governor’s race.

            Matt Towery may have made a judgement in error with regards to taking on a client. He doesn’t work for me, and he is not my concern. I don’t think he works for you or Alan or Icarus.

            The fact that Towery made a phone call from Oxendine’s office is not a story of any significance unless Oxendine ordered him to do it.

            Did he order him to do it? Or, did he give him some sort of ultimatum (e.g., “Do this and I’ll let your client off”)?

            If neither of these things happened, then Icarus has discovered nothing new with regards to Oxendine’s actions.

            He did succeed in embarrassing one man in this matter: Matt Towery.

            But as far as this whole endeavor being related to anything of any significance with regards to Oxendine, Icarus has failed on that. Completely failed, actually, unless Oxendine held the proverbial “gun” to Towery’s head.

            Was there a gun to Towery’s head held by Oxendine?

        • Republican Lady says:

          Poli has a point. Ox, Towery, and others chose to become public figures, no one made them do that, and as such, they live in glass houses. When one lives in a glass house, their actions are scrutinzed more than regular private citizens.

          Good insights poli.

          • polisavvy says:

            You’re the only one who feels that way. I feel like I’m conversing with mules some days — the stubborn nature of it all complete with blinders.

    • John Konop says:

      THREAD JACK!!!!

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      …..March 17th 2005, will be a day that will never be forgotten in our family. It was the day our three month old baby boy Keelin was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma.

      Neuroblastoma is a cancer that forms on your nerve tissue. It normally begins in the adrenal glands, which sit atop your kidneys. It may also begin inyour neck, chest or spinal cord. The cancer often begins in early childhood sometimes while the baby is still in utero.

      Our heart and love goes out to his brilliant pediatrican, surgeon, oncologist, and radioligists for all there hard work and love and dedication for making our baby healthy again. This March 17th, 2010 we celebrate Keelin being five years…


      • Buzzfan says:

        Thaks, John!!…..and the credit for the event (and most of the hard work!) is for/by Tanya Connolly-Walsh (Keelin’s mom). She is, again this year, organizing the event at Harp and does a great job! Last year’s event raised over $25,000 and we’re already about halfway to that number agian for 2010!

        St. Baldrick’s has awarded almost $42MILLION in grants since 2005 ($12M in 2009 alone!) and now is only second to the US Government in total grants for childhood cancer research. (I won’t comment on which one probably does it more efficiently. 😉 Local grantees have included Dr. Craig Castellino at Emory and Dr. Keith August at CHOA/AFLAC Cancer Center.

        Click HERE or on the banner ad here at PeachPundit to see my St Baldrick’s page where you can find out more (and donate!), and please share the link with your friends (and even others 😉

    • Icarus says:

      No problem. To do what I do here, you have to have thick skin. I didn’t weigh in to the comments over the weekend because I would essentially have had to say “trust me” or “there’s more here”, but without knowing how long it would take to get the rest of the story together, it just seemed best to keep my head down and wait.

      Without having talked to any of the direct principals involved, and that includes Westmoreland and his staff, I could only write Friday what I believed to be true and proveable with limited verification after the post was written.

      Watching the comments was interesting. Was nice to see some who think I “hate their guts” still willing to back my credibility. And for the record, I don’t hate Indy’s guts.

      • polisavvy says:

        Oh dumb me assumed it was going to be a multi-part article. I didn’t think you’d put yourself out there like that for lies and innuendo. Glad you were able to have Towery’s own words back you up.

  4. fishtail says:

    Clark Fain is a hot potato these days. I wonder if it was Fain’s or Towery’s idea to go over and see the OX and cut some kind of deal. Looks like Fain will also be a loser in this fiasco, along with Towery.

    • Republican Lady says:

      It says a great deal about Ox’s ethics when he can find a way to manipulate a sick man. I don’t know enough about Towery to make a comment regarding his ethical background but the fact he called Karen and the others to apologize goes a long way.

      Maybe someone should remind Towery about the turtle and the scorpion. Ox, of course, is the scorpion and he tried to make Towery the turtle.

  5. Just saw this on the MENSA forum and thought I’d share it. It seems to fit Ox’s attitude pretty well, I think.

    The challenge here is that at a certain level of reductionism, both parties fit the same label: “I know what’s best for you.”

      • polisavvy says:

        Funny stuff! It’s difficult to form a sentence using “Ox” and “MENSA”; but, here goes: Speaking of Ox and MENSA — how dumb can this man possibly be to make the type of comments about women around other women that he does? I was at an event last night and afterward was visiting with the women, almost every one of them had a story to tell me about the sexist comments he makes to women about either them or another women within his eyesight. Things like, she looks “hot.” Really? He’s even gone so far as to comment to another candidate about how “hot” his wife looked. Really? Are you serious? My dad used to always tell me that “if you’re dumb, you gotta be smart.” I don’t think Ox can distinguish between the two.

        • Republican Lady says:

          Secure men don’t subscribe to this philosophy and we are lucky there are more secure men than weak men in general.

          Comments like that made by Ox puts women in the sex category of “barefoot, pregnant, and good in the kitchen.”
          These are weak men who are not interested in the brain power of women, their social, medical, educational, political, or other contributions, so they try to unite with other similar thinking men to “keep women in their place.”

          If Ox thinks that way, did he get that message from his father and is he teaching that concept to his sons? I feel for his mother and wife, and any female employees he has because he will never see beyond their physical attributes. Do you think it is a Bible belt mentality?

          A good example of this archiac thinking is many police agencies outside metro Atlanta where female officers can’t advance past sergeant (Dawson County Sheriff’s Office) and in rare cases, lieutenant (Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office).

          In interviewing hundreds of women they say they cannot break this glass ceiling. In Forsyth, one female said there are three women on the captain’s list but they never get promoted because they need a master’s degree. They have a male captain who was sent to college to get that “paper.” He will have his bachelor’s this year and then will start Command College to get his master’s in two years.

          Women at the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office are not afforded this opportunity, so it can be said that Sheriff Billy Carlisle (Dawson) and Sheriff Ted Paxton (Forsyth) may have Oxendine’s mentality.

          • polisavvy says:

            The funny thing about some of the comments made is that his wife had just had their baby. Nice, huh? As far as the Bible-belt mentality, well I choose to leave religion out of it. I think it’s just that some men feel that way about all women — that women are subservient or beneath them in the pecking order of life. Sad, but true in some cases. Comments like that are totally sexist and unnecessary and should not be in their vernacular. Just my most humble opinion (for which I am sure you and I both will be castigated).

          • But religion is certainly part of it. What’s the verse about wives submit to your husbands? Do you know how many times I’ve heard old timey preachers and other religious “folk” talk about how women should do what their husbands say because he’s the head of the house and other similar things?

            What about King Solomon… didn’t he have over 700 wives? Surely you don’t think that some of the treatment of women has nothing to do with religion and the Bible stories people grow up with?

          • polisavvy says:

            And let the castigating begin . . . I didn’t say religion was not a part of it, I said I choose to leave religion out of this discussion (and others, for that matter). I think that a lot of men feel this way because of their upbringing and how families interact with one another, too. In our household, our roles are equal and that’s how my sons have seen us interact; they don’t view women as chattel or objects of unkind or unflattering comments. Being religious myself, I know that the Bible can apply in all aspects of our lives; however, I choose not to engage in religious discussions because religion is a very personal thing, in my opinion. And to answer your question, I am very familiar with King Solomon and lessons taught in Sunday School and church.

          • My apologies… I apparently didn’t read your post slowly enough. 🙂 My wife and I consider ourselves equal partners as well, though we choose to leave religion mostly out of our lives. We respect the choices of our other family members but typically only join them at services during the holidays. I grew up with a father that is Southern Baptist and my mom was a Christian Scientist. (No, not the church of scientology… totally different concept.) So I’m very familiar with the teachings of various denominations and actively choose not to believe what was taught to me growing up. But I certainly don’t mean to castigate you for your beliefs. 🙂 I just wanted to make sure you’re not discounting that religion probably has a part in Ox’s attitude that women come second to men (and others like him).

          • polisavvy says:

            No apologies needed, David Staples. I’m not that kind of poster. 🙂 I have a pretty hard outer shell. I just don’t like mixing politics with religion too much. Not my style. I, like you, grew up in church every Sunday (Methodist); and, I have chosen to believe and follow certain aspects thereof; and others, not so much.

          • Republican Lady says:

            David Staples has a point, we can’t totally separate religion from the way some men and women interact. Some people change attitudes and some don’t. Some women are heads of households and need to be able to have the same promotional opportunities and salaries as do men.

            Oxendine, by making sexists remarks never evolved in many respects and that is what he brings to the table, a narrow-minded view of women and unethical behavior that is self-serving. Approximately half of the state is female, many of whom are active voters, so Ox tell us how sexy and hot we are and see how many of us vote you right on out the door. We have brain power too and many of us have concluded our brain power doesn’t want you!

          • polisavvy says:

            I totally agree with you both; however, I personally do not like to mix religion with politics. As a matter of fact, I try to always avoid getting into discussions regarding religion. I feel that religion is very personnel.

  6. Two observations and questions. For those of you who may know Georgia General Assembly history more than I do, please correct any inaccuracies. How long did Towery serve in the General Assembly? I don’t recall it was that long. I know he earned himself a bridge in Cobb County.

    “And since I was the senior member of the insurance committee for many years, I sort of know the laws.”

    And did a member of the minority party really have the juice to get so much accomplished?

    “I have every right as a lawyer who wrote most of the modern insurance code to represent a client.”

    Like others have stated, I don’t wish a sick man any ill will, and along with every current and former Georgia political figure and sports personality, I offer my assistance if needed for his quick recovery. But come on, he was out representing a client before the Insurance Commissioner. He had enough mental faculties to know what he was doing.

      • polisavvy says:

        I don’t think anyone is advocating that. I do find it more than suspicious that he shows up at Ox’s office and makes a call to Westmoreland especially given the fact that he is employed by the very same firm who is representing Ox in his ethic’s woes. It does raise suspicion.

        • polisavvy says:

          He’s not ready for Sainthood, at least not in my opinion. I agree with you that he was fully aware of what he was doing when he placed that call and, given the fact that ML&A represent Ox with his ethics problems, it reeks of impropriety. I know I will get crucified for that; but, that’s how I feel. I don’t believe the head injury justifies the rationale behind the call, and the fact that he was wanting Westmoreland to just back off a while (code for: waiting until the election is over), raises a red flag to me. I wish the man no ill well and hope he has a speedy recovery, but I’m still very skeptical.

          • Mozart says:

            What’s your real name, Poli? I’ll put your name down on the list to get crucified. ‘Cause there is a long list ahead of you and you want to hurry to save your place in line. 🙂

          • polisavvy says:

            Crucified for what? For calling it like I see it? As for my name, well you’ll find out one day, I promise.

          • IndyInjun says:

            Go to youtube and search for “Walstreetpro2” channel

            *******WARNING – Graphic Poltical References*********

            Rated “P” for Profanity.

            Read the comments.

            It seems the most outspoken can be silenced.

          • polisavvy says:

            That’s pretty funny stuff! The only thing I have to say is that if someone is spouting a bunch of lies and things that can’t be backed up, or doing things illegal, well they probably will get in trouble. If you guys are saying that I’m not speaking the truth, well sorry, but I am. Facts are facts and I stand by everything I’ve said today (and in the past). There are a few people on here who are trying to bait me, but it’s not going to work. I don’t scare easily.

  7. Technocrat says:

    I find it interesting that 40% [36% of households] of voting age population do not have INET access at home or work in US.
    Based on:
    “Some Americans insisted that they were still trying to adopt the wheel, while others said that using fire was proving trickier than they had thought and a small minority were still having difficulty with using opposable thumbs. Only 11 per cent of people said the reason they didn’t use the Internet was because they lived in a rural area where banjo picking interfered with broadband signals”.

    I would assume based on rurality and poverty-race that Georgia is a bit below average so < half the potential voters don't have INET access.

    Who is PP [Extreme Radical Agenda – Anti – OX] speaking to, often leaves me confused. Surely not the Voters who will bring him home

    • In addition, I would think that the percentage of the voting age population without Internet access would be even higher than the percentage of the overall population without it.

    • Technocrat,

      I guess this geek rampage of yours is meant to slam Georgians. Of course, this site only caters to people with an abnormal interest in politics. Why else would we be talking about an election so many months away, and not America’s historic blowout of Canada in hockey last night?

      You are right that most of my fellow Georgians or “ignant rednecks without access to the world wide web” as you might insinuate, probably won’t read these posts. Most voters only choose a candidate two weeks out. However, Oxendine will max out in the polls soon, and lose in a runoff to anyone that comes in second place.

      Unless that is, he loses his cool and implodes before that time. As Towery himself stated …”he was obsessed with Congressman Lynn Westmoreland’s comments.” That is an unhealthy way for a “front runner” to be conducting himself while in “serious” discussions with the opposing lawyer, representing a client under investigation by the Insurance Commissioner.

      • polisavvy says:

        I liked your post, Luke. I can only add that, last time I checked, no one is forced to live in Georgia; therefore, if people don’t like what’s here, they can go out the gate and not let it hit them in the butt on the way out.

  8. IndyInjun says:

    This story shouts out how cronyized Georgia politics are.

    Carlin was right. “Its a big club and YOU AIN’T IN IT!”

  9. polisavvy says:

    @ Icarus. Something that has been puzzling me about this whole thing is: was Westmoreland informed by Towery that he was in Oxendine’s office and that Oxendine was privy to the call and was listening in? Or did Westmoreland just deduce this? If Oxendine was in the room while the call was made and was listening in on the call, if Towery did not inform Westmoreland, is that a legal thing to do? Sometime tells me not to much. Just curious and would love to know the answer to this if you know it. Thanks in advance, Icarus.

    • ByteMe says:

      And you can imagine the conversation going like this?

      “Lynn? Matt. Listen, I’m here with Ox and he won’t shut the f&*)# up about you. Could you guys just get a room already and leave me out of it?”

      • polisavvy says:

        Actually, I was being serious. I do want to know the details, if Icarus has them. They can shed a lot of light on this whole thing. This race has turned into such a political nightmare that I think that anything that can be exposed on any of these people running for Governor, or any other office, should be thrown out there in front of God and everybody! This whole story stinks to high heavens and I feel that Icarus has only begun to expose everything that’s going on or is going on. I sincerely hope he keeps digging!! In my opinion, there are far more people involved, directly or indirectly, to this story.

        • B Balz says:

          I predict voters could care less about this bizarre footnote, nor will this strange tale change their minds on how to vote. Other than a major, and I do mean BIG scandal folks trying to shape the GOP polls, nominations, etc. are going to make this a long, long five months.

          So far, I see nothing that would concern the average voter. Especially, if that voter had gotten good service from the Insurance Commissioner’s office.

          This odd story provides a glimpse into the real world of friends, power, and politics. And guess what, no surprise there either!

          • polisavvy says:

            However, BBalz, if there is more to this story which is divulged, then perhaps it could. Think about it, particularly after you read Icarus’ response to me about whether or not Westmoreland was aware of Ox being privy to the call, it reeks of more to come. Who know, a story like this could expose some relatively high ups in the Georgia political world and bring them to their knees. If so, then it could impact voters.

            I’m just hoping and praying that voters will actually pay attention to what’s going on around them, for a change. I am aware of all the crap that goes on in politics — I make it a point to be informed. I have read between the lines of a few of the posters here this morning who are accepting this as a mistake. I just happen not to think a mistake or lack of judgment is all that’s behind this.

          • IndyInjun says:

            I don’t agree.

            Radio and print media in my part of the state are all over Oxendine’s missteps early and often.

          • Mozart says:

            Do those folks in your part of the state read the newspaper with any higher frequency than people not in your part of the state?

    • Icarus says:

      My understanding is that Westmoreland was not aware that Towery was either in Ox’s office or that Ox was there. This was somehow deduced after the fact, and Lynn called back and asked Towery if it were true, at which point he said that it was.

      • polisavvy says:

        Thanks for answering that for me. I have been amazed at some of the posters here who seem to just think this is all okay. I don’t happen to feel that way. There is so much more to this story and I hope you keep on digging away at it. A story like this really exposes politics for what it really is, doesn’t it?

      • polisavvy says:

        As an aside, I was speaking with a young man to attended the CPAC meeting in D.C. this past weekend and he indicated that people were talking about this matter. He said that they were raising some pretty valid questions about all of this.

  10. John Konop says:

    Westmoreland should get real credit for telling the truth. He easily could of taking the easy way out. I have never met him, but we do need more like him on both sides willing to do the right thing in terms of ethics.

  11. B Balz says:

    Rep. Westmoreland is liked on both sides of the aisle because he is a Statesman. You may not agree with his position, but he is a Statesman.

    Therefore, public perception of using ‘strongarm’ tactics on a man like Rep. Westmoreland would certainly justify concern, if not obsession.

    I want to know why SEUS is such a very big deal. That may be a gamechanger.

    • polisavvy says:

      I asked the same thing last week. What is there that no one wants to expose? Who all could it expose? Is that why Oxendine was so quick to have it pointed out about the hunting trips? I believe we have just seen the tip of the iceberg. The exposure needs to happen soon before the primaries.

        • polisavvy says:

          Of course it does; but sometimes those are risks worth taking, aren’t they? If the people are truly interested in total ethics reform, then it’s part of the gamble isn’t it? Those who have nothing to hide would have no worries; those who do, well that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I personally would like to see all of them exposed for the good things and the bad.

          • B Balz says:

            Personal risks for those that are paid to take them. That’s why I feel that folks like Icarus deserve some special recognition.

            Icarus is known in real time, and is relentless, and is a volunteer (as far as I know). That takes B Balz because the folks he is dancin’ with can play mean and dirty.

          • polisavvy says:

            I totally agree with you about Icarus. That’s why I’m encouraging him to keep digging. As far as the people “playing mean and dirty,” as long as he only exposes the truth, he has nothing to worry about. If the dirty players get exposed, then, as you to eloquently stated, they are paid, and guess who pays them? That would be us. I want each and every one of them exposed for who they really are and for what they have really done. I’m sick of all the corruptness in politics. It doesn’t have to be that way and we should settle for nothing less.

    • IndyInjun says:

      My entire opinion of Westmoreland is formed from what I picked up on PP and that is that he is widely admired and respected.

      He avoided a lot of problems by coming to Congress after the more egregious of Bush 43’s many assaults on conservatism, GOP principles, and the Constitution AND…

      I wonder if he would have been able to withstand the pressure any better than the rest of the GOP delegation, save Charlie Norwood.

      Maybe this attempt to draw him back within the comphy level of “the Club” and his refusal says he really is on the level of Norwood.

        • benevolus says:

          Oh, well let me help you there.

          Westmoreland is the guy who wanted to put the Ten Commandments in the courthouse, but when Steven Colbert asked him to recite the Commandments… he couldn’t. Pander.

          Westmoreland also called President Barack Obama “uppity”. (Figures he would align himself with Nathan Deal.)

          I suppose Westmoreland’s district is full of racist fundamentalists and he is just doing his best to represent them. Don’t even think about running him for something statewide though.

          • polisavvy says:

            Thanks for sharing that, benevolus. I did not know that about him so I can now say that I have heard negative things about him. He’s not my guy. I have the wonderful distinction of having Jim Marshall (need I say more?). Glad I’m not in his district or you might think I’m a racist. 🙂

        • IndyInjun says:

          Norwood also voted against Medicare D. When Westmoreland was lauded on PP, I looked up his vote and found he wasn’t there yet.

          Ox has a real opportunity to attack Deal based upon what Medicare D did to insurance costs for those outside of the plan and how it was a pay-off to corps.

          OX cannot go after Westmoreland nearly as effectively and, hence, needs to concentrate firepower on Deal, a guy he is actually running against.

          Going after a Deal spear-chunker who is armor plated like this is hardly smart politics.

      • macho says:

        Westmoreland was one of only 3 or 4 members of Congress to vote against the Katrina bill. At the time he was vilified, but has now been vindicated, by the reports of extreme wasteful spending. The Gucci store over at Phipps had a real boon to their business when those Katrina credit cards were issued.

        If he could stand up to that pressure, he could have stood up to the GOP’s wasteful spending.

        Deal, on the other hand, is a go along, get along guy. He’s going to vote whatever way the leadership is voting. When it was popular to vote for a lot of wasteful spending, like under Bush 43, Deal was happily voting for future federal bankruptcy. Now that it’s popular to bash Obama’s wasteful spending; Deal is a fiscal conservative.

        • benevolus says:

          How has he been vindicated? Katrina was an emergency- by definition not thoroughly planned out and therefore by nature a bit more wasteful than usual. Add in that W had treated FEMA like a giant hot tub for his cronies and it wasn’t going to be pretty. But what was the alternative? Wait? Not do anything? Sometimes the only choice is to do something less bad than the other choice.
          That’s not vindication. That’s revisionist history.

          • Harry says:

            Spending taxpayer (as opposed to private) money on the Katrina aftermath was wrong, wrong, wrong. New Orleans is still below sea level, and why should we expect a different result the next time? Better to let those people take their losses and move on to somewhere else, just like the victims of a house fire. Life is a risk.

            As far as Bush treating FEMA like a giant hot tub for his cronies, what’s new? Some of us suspect Clinton appointed his own personal bag man and hit man as a regional director of FEMA.

          • benevolus says:

            You should ask Thomas Jefferson (one of The Founders) about that. He bought it. I think The Founders Intent would have been to save it.

          • macho says:

            “I think The Founders Intent would have been to save it.”

            Are you fricken kidding me? You have no idea how far the federal government has come since the days of Jefferson. This would have been an undebatable, clearcut state issue in Jeffersons’s time. The representatives in Washington would have looked at you like you were mad, if you had suggested taking money from citizens in other states and giving it to the citizens of another.

            For historical context look at how much money the Feds gave after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake or the Chicago fire. There was plenty of private donations, but the idea of the federal government ponying up money would have been absurd.

          • benevolus says:

            I think it’s funny that Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana Purchase even though he thought it was probably unconstitutional.

          • benevolus says:

            OK, how about Alexander Hamilton. He was a Founder. Big states rights guy too. Oh wait. No he wasn’t.

  12. IndyInjun says:

    Going after Westmoreland is counterintuitive.

    Ox needs to go after Deal and the rest of the GOP delegation who is supporting him on the basis of their wretched record in DC, not on some miniscule involvement of Westmoreland on the honorary board of a financial institution.

    We have gubernatorial candidates running right now on Obama’s birth certificate, a national sales tax that ruins state finances, and a spat between officeholders.

    One would never dream that they are running for governor in a state that is down $4 billion in revenues.

    Maybe I just answered my own question. Please excuse the lapse into reality.

    • Buzzfan says:

      Do not trust anyone with a large pen.

      I thought it was “Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel”.

      ….. or are we on different metaphors?

        • Buzzfan says:

          My bad….you are correct. It was Ben D and his official double-naught spy writin’ and recordin’ pen. And somehow the City concluded decided that there was insufficient evidence that BD had intended to illegally record the Delta officials’ private conversation. Uh-huh.

          • B Balz says:

            This pen is probably the ‘last straw’ and one reason for a new airport manager. I wondered why his departure was ‘without delay.’

            Note to self: While in Atlanta, do NOT treat Delta like that.

  13. Hills says:

    I am sorry! I was refering off hand about the ATL DeCosta story. Corruption, or the appearence of unethical conduct of our leaders is pandemic. Why can’t we the people have the choice between the best of the best; instead of the least among the worst?

    • B Balz says:

      What’s scary is that little recording pen also translates to mandarin or arabic; surely ‘speaks’ to its’ intended customer base.

    • Perhaps more people would be interested in running for public office if there weren’t such stringent requirements to do so without having to identify as either a Republican or a Democrat. In Georgia at least, the current requirements make it tough for a third party or independent candidate to run.

      • IndyInjun says:

        . In Georgia at least, the current requirements make it tough for a third party or independent candidate to run.

        In Georgia REPUBLICANS are seldom to be found on a ballot or in office, forcing REPUBLICANS to refrain from voting.

        Being a REPUBLICAN means that one is barred from office, except maybe Westmoreland or Broun and even they are co-opted by fundraising realities.

    • IndyInjun says:

      Why can’t we the people have the choice between the best of the best; instead of the least among the worst?

      You/we won’t pay them enough.

      You/we will harrass them to death.

      You/we will get all upset at sexual pecadillos or some such trivia and refuse them office.

      You/we will be bored to death by them.

      You/we won’t accept the truth (see investigation into the Challenger explosion…or Titanic……or even PP before the financial crisis became manifest……ever heard someone called “chicken little?”)

      Ox ain’t boring.

      Next question.

    • IndyInjun says:

      I am saying that we the people, on the whole, are inattentive.

      A vigilant people would be marching on Washington.

      About 2 months ago the people of Georgia made a stand and it was awesome to behold, but now everyone seems back asleep.

      A vigilant people would find a reformer/leader and stand behind him/her like a massive battering ram….if the USA is to survive.

      Ox is the antithesis of leader/reformer and so is Deal.

    • B Balz says:

      I’m saying that a pen that translates English to mandarin/arabic means the durn thing is designed to spy on us.

  14. Mozart says:

    The more I think about this whole saga, and the fact that it wasn’t what Icarus originally claimed on Friday (i.e., that it was some nefarious thing Oxendine was doing), the more I think this “story” isn’t any of our business or related to anything in the Governor’s race.

    Matt Towery may have made a judgement in error with regards to taking on a client. He doesn’t work for me, and he is not my concern.

    The fact that Towery made a phone call from Oxendine’s office is not a story of any significance unless Oxendine ordered him to do it.

    Did he order him to do it? Or, did he give him some sort of ultimatum (e.g., “Do this and I’ll let your client off”)?

    If neither of these things happened, then Icarus has discovered nothing new with regards to Oxendine’s actions.

    He did succeed in embarrassing one man in this matter: Matt Towery.

    But as far as this whole endeavor being related to anything of any significance with regards to Oxendine, Icarus has failed on that. Completely failed, actually, unless Oxendine held the proverbial “gun” to Towery’s head.

    Was there a gun to Towery’s head held by Oxendine?

    • polisavvy says:

      I’ll agree with you on this provided there was no ultimatum or deal discussed between Towery and Oxendine. If there was, well then that’s a horse of a different color, isn’t it? As for Mr. Towery, well he obviously knew he screwed up or he wouldn’t have spoken with Icarus; therefore, his decision to participate in the whole dog and pony show brought embarrassment himself.

      • Mozart says:

        Riiiiight. So, unless there is a 3rd post where Icarus can supply us with the exact wording of the ultimatum (if there was one), then all Icarus has accomplished over 4 days is to embarrass Matt Towery.

        Congratulations, Icarus!

        P.S. Who’s next in the public disclosure of stupid human acts in irrelevant circumstances?

          • Mozart says:

            I’m missing the wonderful “message” from The Messenger here, Icarus. Please enlighten us as to what the “relevant” message was because you missed your main target of Oxendine by 10,000 kilometers.

          • polisavvy says:

            Just ignore and continue what you’re doing. I seriously don’t get some of the comments either. It’s like some refuse to believe that there could possibly be something untoward about this whole thing. I personally think there’s something there, until proven otherwise. An “oops, I didn’t mean to do it” doesn’t always work with me.

          • polisavvy says:

            Nope and don’t try to twist my words around. I think that we should all just hold off getting the cross ready for Icarus. If you don’t think any untoward went on, then that’s your opinion. If I think something untoward went on, then that’s my opinion. We can argue whose opinion is more valid all day, but there’s really no point. If I am wrong, I’ll be the first to admit it; however, at the present time, I still believe that there is something else to the story which time will reveal. We can be friends and allow one another to have differing opinions without being rude, or we can be enemies and show one another no respect. I usually prefer the former.

          • Mozart says:

            Poli, let me make myself clear: Something untoward appears to have happened, but it does not appear to have involved Oxendine doing something untoward in this case…unless Icarus was told something by Towery that he is holding back on.

            I’m fairly certain that if Icarus had the “goods” on Oxendine in this matter, he would have laid it all out for us.

            I am still interested in the “message,” unless the “message” is only that sometimes people do stupid things in life that other people know about, and you might end-up on a blog.

            Golly. I’ll make sure to teach my kids that until they are perfect in everything they do to dare not go outside in the world because someone like Icarus will be there ready to pounce and expose them.

          • polisavvy says:

            Mozart, we should really end this conversation because you are now trying to so twist my words around to suit whatever you want. My final question on this matter to you is how can you be so sure that Icarus isn’t going to bring this up again with a full disclosure at a later date? I have seen people get completely castrated right before an election because of stories that break. Icarus could end this whole conversation you and I are having if he were to come out and say “more to come” or “that’s all folks.” Until he does, I am going to continue to think that perhaps there is still more to the story and that Oxendine is not as pure as you are alleging him to be. If Icarus says “that’s all folks” then I will personally apologize to you for ever doubting your sincerity. Agreed?

    • You don’t see that Ox looks pretty stupid here? Ox is obsessed with getting Westmoreland to shut up about a situation he himself started. He picked the fight with Westmoreland and now he doesn’t want to finish it because he knows it’s a loser for him. So Towery shows up to speak to Ox on behalf of a client and finds him going nuts:

      “John just wouldn’t shut up about it. He was going crazy. I said, ‘John, I can’t get Lynn to change his opinion of you. If he thinks you’re a shakedown artist, he thinks you’re a shakedown artist.’ “

      Towery was man enough to admit he should have stayed out of it. Will Ox be man enough to admit he should have never tried to bully Lynn Westmoreland in the first place?

      • Republican Lady says:

        I don’t think Ox is used to people standing up to him which is a bully trait. Ox is more comfortable for people to slink away with their brusied egos and terrified of him, which coincides with the teachings of Niccolo Machiavelli. What Ox should read is the “Peter Principle” and see how his actions make him the poster boy for PP. He is too insecure and too much of a bully to be a Machiavelli.

  15. Hills says:

    Indy Injun….I would be proud to buy you a beer. The rumble has onlyy begun. Ox is history or we don’t stand a chance. The word is getting out.

  16. Buzzfan says:

    If we’d started earlier, I think a write-in campaign for “None of the above” could’ve proven fruitful.

    I’m thinking a runoff, at least.

  17. Hills says:

    As to this story, me thinks it a matter of not being able to dazzle people with brilliance so they baffle us with B.S.

  18. GOPGeorgia says:

    It’s my understanding that it is legal to record a phone call as long as one party of the call is aware of it. I imagine the same can be implied on listening in on a conversation as long as one party knows about it. Is it ethically questionable? Maybe, but it is certainly legal.

    In politics, and I imagine the same is true for public officeholders, always tell the truth and don’t say anything you don’t want on a billboard. That’s a good rule of thumb to follow.

    • That sounds correct, so long as one party involved in the coversation knows about the recording. In a scenario where someone leaves a pen on a table still recording and leaves the room while the people in the room continue to talk about private matters… if none of them know about the recording device and there’s no sign clearly posted warning that anything that goes on in that room is subject to be recorded, then it is illegal.

      We have all sorts of situations like that we have to abide by at work. From the incoming IVR system telling callers that their call may be recorded for quality assurance to even warning employees at the login screens on company owned computers that their activities – computer and telephone related – may be monitored at any time.

      • Republican Lady says:

        Actually, to record a conversation in which you are not a part is a federal law violation under the topic of wiretapping.

        • Doug Deal says:

          From my understanding, as long as the phone call is between two parties in the same state, state law applies. In Georgia, I believe that we are a single party state, meaning as long as one side agrees it is ok. Other states like Maryland (or was that Virginia) are two party states, and it is a crime unless both parties are aware (see: Monica Lewinsky and Linda Tripp).

          If the call crosses a state border, then Federal Law applies which requires two party notification.

  19. B Balz says:

    I think ‘it’ started with an ill-conceived law, some time ago.

    One must ask ‘who benefits’ from the ‘one-party’ law? Certainly not the ‘greater good’, this law is bad for business and government.

    Respectful of the ‘no threadjacking’ rule, my rant is continued on the Paul Broun open thread.

  20. Mozart says:

    I must have woken-up this morning dumb and blind for I cannot find anywhere in this “Rest of the Story…” where Icarus mentions that this phone conversation was “recorded.”

  21. John Konop says:

    OX claims he was on a hot trail of a criminal investigation. Can anyone explain why the call to Westmorland did not violate his oath of office? And if not we have a real problem in Georgia!

    AJC…….Oxendine, a Republican candidate for governor, is investigating whether Fain hid the extent of the company’s problems on its financial reports by using fraudulent, Enron-style accounting.

    “We believe this was intentional,” Oxendine said, “and that’s a crime.”…….

    AJC…Meanwhile, Oxendine’s office is continuing the investigation which began last year.

    “When we started the case, we were looking at, OK, Clark really did some incompetent things,” Oxendine said. “As we got further, we said we believe this is beyond incompetence and mismanagement.”
    If the investigation strongly documents criminal intent, he said, “We hope to see handcuffs on Mr. Fain someday.”…


    • polisavvy says:

      John Konop, what is your bottom line assessment of this whole debacle, if you don’t mind sharing that with me. I would appreciate it.

      • John Konop says:

        This is my opinion on only the facts I have read.

        1) SEUS only had less than 1% problem with claims on their audit and that is really good ratio.

        2) Buying property in this market is probably smart to use as an asset since prices are low. And under the new mark to market rules many banks and insurance companies are using assets that have not been mark down via the long hold rule. I would trust an asset bought recently over an older one in most cases.

        I am no lawyer but I do wonder if insurance companies that gave money to OX were held to the same standard especially competitors? And if not, I would think the state of Georgia and OX have a lot of explaining to do.

        • polisavvy says:

          Thanks, I was just wondering your take on this and if you think that there is still more to come or that the story’s over. I agree with you about Ox and the State having some explaining. To date, from what I’ve read, there are still many unanswered questions. If everything you have said is accurate, and I have no reason to believe otherwise, then I have questions about some of the allegations in the complaint filed by the State. Something is just not adding up here.

  22. DaleRussell says:

    This is what we were running around the time Matt met with Oxendine.
    Since the local newspaper hasn’t mentioned it in its news coverage, thought I’d pass it along.

    Fain took Governor and top legislators on free hunting trips.


    • polisavvy says:

      First of all, let me tell you that I enjoy for work. Thanks for the link. As for this story, it’s a “he said, he said” situation with so many lives being affected. There are still numerous questions I have regarding all of this, as well as the timing and true intent. If what the attorney for Fain is saying is accurate, and that the company could have sustained itself for several years, then your piece raises many more questions. If it can be proven that this was strictly for political gain, then Oxendine should be in deep trouble — abuse of power should never be tolerated. I have read many of the documents on this case, and feel that something is just not adding up (from both sides of the coin). Do you believe there is still more than meets the eye? If so, are you still digging?

    • John Konop says:

      I have a few more questions after seeing the video.

      Did the company have cash flow to pay claims while looking for a buyer and or new investors?

      If the company had cash flow how did this help the victims? It looks like the only winners will be the lawyers.

      And if the company passed on over 99% good audit of clients it would seem that a buyer would want the company and to take over the insurance clients which would have helped the policy holders.

      Liquidation should be done if the book of clients has no value. It seems like this book had value.

      And it even looks worse that OX called Westmoreland if OX thinks this is an criminal issue.

      • polisavvy says:

        That’s what I’m thinking and wondering about, too — about the book value issue. That raises even more questions as to why Ox was so freaked out and agitated, and that the call was made in the first place. There are still many unanswered questions. My only hope is that the answers come sooner as opposed to later — hence, the whole “hold off a while” call placed to Westmoreland in the first place. My heart breaks for those who have been affected by this — those poor innocent victims. If we ever find out that there was anything political involved in this, we will all feel even worse for the victims, all of them.

          • polisavvy says:

            I’m glad you see it the same way I do. I don’t understand why people have just adopted the “well, it’s okay, because Towery is such a great guy and has admitted he shouldn’t have made the call” attitude. There was a reason for the call in the first place. Ox’s agitation alone says a lot. The story is not over, in my opinion; there is still more than meets the eye. I certainly hope Mr. Russell will see to it that we all eventually get the truth of the matter. Not to satisfy our own curiosity as much as to get to the truth and to help the innocent victims of this whole ordeal (the insureds and the insurance companies) affected so detrimentally because of this. If there is any way to help the victims, then everything should be exhausted to accomplish that. The bigger picture of what we all should be wanting is the truth and if, as Fain’s attorney says, it was all politically motivate, then something needs to be done.

  23. Mozart says:

    What happens when a company that has cash in the bank is “liquidated?” Who gets that cash? Does it become the property of the state?

    • ByteMe says:

      The creditors of the company get dibs on it in order of secured creditors first (they get the assets that secured their credit), then unsecured creditors in the order and amounts as deemed correct by the judge administering the bankruptcy case.

    • John Konop says:

      First creditors usually would rather see a re-organization or sell of the company because they would come up ahead over a chapter 7 liquidation. In liquidation it is vultures looking for cheap hard assets and no real value for customer relations.

      Second in a liquidation of a company it is all about who has lien position less legal fees. By forcing liquidation the customer value is worthless once they go out of business. So now what is left is hard assets ie land, buildings, cars…. which in this environment is especially tough.

      Finally that is why liquidation should be a last resort.

    • Mozart says:

      I don’t think one needs to be registered as a lobbyist in order to represent a client. Based on what I got from Icarus’s info above, he represented Clark Fain, not SEUS.

Comments are closed.