ATLANTA -- Outgoing Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine is lending his name and other support to fellow Republican Ralph Hudgens, and Democrat Mary Squires is using the association to blast them both.
Although Oxendine placed fourth in the GOP gubernatorial primary, he raised the most money. Now he's chairing a fundraiser for Hudgens at a Macon home on Wednesday.
Squires issued a release Wednesday charging them both with the same lax ethical standards.
She pointed to a pending complaint against Oxendine with the State Ethics Commission related to contributions to his gubernatorial campaign from a group of Alabama political-action committees connected to a Rome, Ga., insurance company. Hudgens also had a run-in with the commission because he improperly transferred money from his legislative re-election campaign to his insurance-commissioner campaign fund, but he reversed it and received no fine or sanction from the Ethics Commission.
She also said half of Hudgens' contributions in this campaign come from insurance interests, and that as chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee he accepted $20,000 in gifts from insurance lobbyists.
"Ralph Hudgens is bought and paid for by insurance lobbyists," she said. "While Ralph is downing shrimp cocktails with John Oxendine, traveling the country to attend football games, eating at five-star restaurants, and staying in swanky hotels, I'll continue to talk to the people of Georgia about protecting their families and their pocketbooks."
Hudgens' campaign brushed aside the accusations.
"The suggestion that Ralph Hudgens is bought and paid for by lobbyists is laughable," said Hudgens' campaign spokeswoman Candi Sprague. "Ralph is a small businessman while Mary Squires is herself a lobbyist, a fact she conveniently leaves out of her biographical sketch."
Squires, a former member of the House and Senate, is a registered lobbyists for companies that administer private insurance plans. Her campaign website and materials don't mention her lobbying.