AJC Political blogger Jim Galloway wrote over the weekend that Insurance Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate John Oxendine was one of the people who urged Chairman Charles Bannister to “come to terms with angry Gwinnett voters” over the proposed three-mill tax increase. Oxendine’s involvement, as Galloway notes, was purely political—if Bannister’s “anti-conservative” antics turn off Gwinnett’s Republican base, the GOP could lose the Governor’s office to the Democrats in 2010.
The Oxendine involvement was played up heavily… I guess, if you’re going to be thrown under the bus as was Bannister, you want it to be done gently and by a pal. Oxendine is characterized as Bannister’s “friend and ally,” which explains why he came to the Suwanee tax “tea party” on Monday with nothing but kudos and congratulations for Bannister for listening to his constituents. The two left the event together.
It appears by an AJC article today that the two have even more in common. Oxendine has reportedly failed to justify why he appointed a longtime friend and campaign contributor to a powerful insurance association—a friend whose insurance companies have contributed more than ten times the legal limit to Oxendine’s current campaign.
Bannister is currently under fire for attempting to direct public money to political supporters through unnecessary land purchases at inflated values. In May, a Bannister-led majority paid double appraised value for potential parkland to Falcon Investments LLC, owned by Bannister supporter and ally Marvin Hewatt. Yesterday, an attempt to buy unneeded land for a right-of-way at an inflated value from Old Peachtree Partners LLC, another group with ties to Bannister, was temporarily thwarted by voter outrage.
Asked to clarify apparent discrepancies between Oxendine’s remarks and state law, spokesman Glenn Allen provided no comment. The AJC asked, through Allen, for Oxendine to address apparent discrepancies. He did not do so.