John Oxendine is from Tucker, Georgia and lived in DeKalb County while growing up. He is currently a resident of Gwinnett County and has lived there since college. He is a graduate of Mercer University, where he majored in Christianity, Greek, and political science. He also received a Juris Doctorate from Mercer’s law school. After college, he joined the family law practice in Gwinnett County.
His political career began as a student assistant to Governor George Busbee (Democrat, 1975-1983). He campaigned for Joe Frank Harris (Democrat, 1983-1991) and was appointed by Harris as chairman of the State Personnel Board. Since 1994, Oxendine has served as the state Insurance Commissioner. In his most recent re-election campaign, he carried 153 of Georgia’s 159 counties. Oxendine was the first Republican to control a state agency.
As Insurance Commissioner, Oxendine expanded office hours to be more responsive to citizens and consistently kept the Insurance Commission under budget. One of Oxendine’s first acts was to reform Georgia’s worker’s compensation insurance rules to reduce insurance costs for small businesses.
Oxendine made a national name for himself by becoming a leader in reining in HMOs. Georgia passed a prompt-pay law in 1994. The law required insurance companies to pay claims within 15 working days. Oxendine levied millions of dollars in fines against insurance companies who violated the law, more than any other Insurance Commissioner. He received the Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Government Service from the American Medical Association in 2002.
In 2009, Oxendine faced claims that he accepted travel to the Oscars from a political contributor. Indianapolis Life Insurance claimed that Oxendine took a trip that was paid for by Dr. Jeffrey Gallups, who was involved in a case with Indianapolis. Oxendine claimed that he had reimbursed Gallups and that the insurer had been involved in wrongdoing. Others say that Oxendine had a personal interest in the case [http://www.allbusiness.com/government/elections-politics-campaigns-elections/13881535-1.html ].
Also in 2009, Oxendine was criticized by the Atlanta Journal for taking $120,000 in campaign contributions which were traced by to two insurance companies owned by the same man. Georgia law prohibits officials from taking money from companies they regulate. The money was given by ten separate political action committees. The AJC traced the PACs to two common addresses. Georgia law also prohibits individuals from donating more than $12,200 to a candidate in one election cycle. The use of multiple PACs to circumvent the limit is also prohibited. Oxendine stated that he and his campaign were unaware that the money came from an insurance company. According to Oxendine, the law specifies that the donors are punishable under law, but recipients are not at fault “as long as it appears to be an appropriate contribution on its face. All we can go by is what the giver tells us.” [http://www.ajc.com/services/content/metro/stories/2009/05/10/oxendine_campaign_funding_governor.html%3Fcxtype%3Drss&cxsvc%3D7&cxcat%3D13 ].
Finally, Oxendine’s son made news in January 2010 when he was involved in hunting accident. While bird hunting, Oxendine’s son fired a shotgun and some of the shot struck a man observing the hunt. The younger Oxendine did not have a hunting license, but the hunt was on a preserve where none was needed. Incidentally, the preserve belongs to Delos Yancey III, the same man who is accused of funneling the $120,000 in campaign contributions to Oxendine last year. The complete report on the incident can be found here: www1.romenews-tribune.com/Files/Documents/January2010/HuntinIncidentReport.pdf.
The centerpiece of Oxendine’s campaign is his twelve-point Contract with Georgia. The contract covers a range of reform issues and can be seen in its entirety here: http://www.johnoxendine.com/contract-with-ga.html.
Here is a summary of Mr. Oxendine’s stance on some representative issues:
Life: Oxendine is endorsed by Georgia Right to Life. He supports a life amendment to Georgia constitution, as well as an Advanced Directive Law, the Georgia Abortion Complication Reporting Act, and a Human Cloning Ban. He would like to put Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers “out of business in Georgia.”
Gun Rights: Oxendine is a supporter of the second amendment and would like to expand the right to carry concealed weapons in Georgia. He is a member of the NRA, Georgia Carry, the Georgia Sports Shooting Association, and the Gun Owners of America.
Education: Oxendine would eliminate state level micromanagement of the educational system. He wants to return to local control and accountability. He also supports school vouchers.
Transportation: Oxendine plans to implement a comprehensive statewide transportation system.
John Oxendine is widely considered to be the Republican front-runner in the gubernatorial race.
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