Georgia Insurance Commissioner and Republican gubernatorial candidate John Oxendine, who blasted a news report alleging he accepted what appear to be illegal campaign contributions from an insurance executive, said he has returned the donations.
Oxendine said his campaign did not realize the $120,000 in funds, which exceeded the legal limit of $12,000 from any individual, were from an executive of an insurance company and when it learned this he had the funds returned and sought a ruling from the State Ethics Commission.
The newspaper, citing documents obtained from Georgia and Alabama state agencies, said the money came through 10 Alabama-based political action committees formed by Donald V. Watkins, a director of Admiral Life Insurance Co. of America and State Mutual Insurance. Both firms are headed by Delos “Dee” Yancey III.
Georgia’s ethics law bars public officials from accepting contributions from the companies they regulate.
In a statement in which he alleged that the Atlanta Journal Constitution ran its story without first speaking with his lawyer, Oxendine said he does not think he did anything illegal.
“As it appeared to us, these were not checks from an insurance company we regulate. Additionally, it appeared that these checks were from different entities, not controlled by the same person or people. Under those facts, as we understood them, accepting these contributions was perfectly legal,” he said in a statement.
However, he stated, “out of an abundance of caution,” he decided to return the funds and last week sought advice from the State Ethics Commission.
The newspaper said it contacted Oxendine’s campaign twice before the story was published.
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