A Statement from John Oxendine:
I appreciate all those who have expressed their support these past few days as our campaign has addressed an issue related to contributions made to our campaign.
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.
Based on facts that have recently come to light, previously unknown to us, we have concerns whether our understanding of the facts were complete. Last week, before these facts fully came to light, we filed an advisory opinion request with the Georgia State Ethics Commission.
Out of an abundance of caution, I decided to return the funds pending advice from the State Ethics Commission.
Let me be transparent and direct with the taxpayers of Georgia. I have promised to transform Georgia government. Although my staff and legal counsel, Stefan Passantino of McKenna, Long and Aldridge, advise that we have done nothing illegal, based on the facts as we know them, I am concerned Georgia voters might see this as politics as usual. Therefore, last week, immediately after my initial awareness of this matter, I ordered the process be set in motion to return every single contribution in question and to seek advice as to our rights and obligations to the State Ethics Commission.
I have criticized this as a hit piece and the facts are thus: Mr. Passantino communicated via email with the AJC reporter last Friday that they were to speak today. It is unfortunate that the AJC elected to move forward with this piece before having spoken with Mr. Passantino to get our side of the story.
Had this occurred, the story would not have been an issue because the AJC would have had the opportunity to report that the money had already been returned and that we had previously initiated a request for guidance and clarification from the State Ethics Commission.
The critics have questioned my personal integrity. I respect each of you as voters. I realize that many Georgians support our campaign and some oppose it. However, I am determined that those who do oppose my campaign, do so based on honorable disagreements on the issues and not based on a question of my integrity as it relates to campaign contributions.
I will run a non-traditional campaign and be a different type of Governor. I hope that today I have taken steps to demonstrate my sincerity to Georgia. It is my desire to have a campaign that is a positive, issue-oriented campaign based on traditional Reagan conservative values.
When reporters cover issues such as campaign contributions as opposed to covering the important issues before Georgia of transportation, education, water, health care, jobs, agriculture, and the Fair Tax, nothing is done to improve the lives of working families in Georgia.
I am pleased this matter is behind us and welcome the opportunity to listen to Georgians about those issues important to them and to talk about my Contract with Georgia.