Political Vine: The Insider's Source on Georgia Politics

Political Vine: The Insider's Source on Georgia Politics

The Political Vine is the home of political news, satire, rants, and rumors.

Insurance Commissioner Run-Off Race: Ralph Hudgens vs. Maria Sheffield

by PV


Guilt by association” and “Honor by association” are probably the two worst fallacies used in political races this season. And, we at PV are just fed-up with observing self-proclaimed “conservative thinking Republicans” partake in no more rational thinking other than velcro-ing (H/T to T.P. for that phrase) their thinking processes to one or both of these fallacies when deciding who to support.

In the Insurance commissioner’s race, Ralph Hudgens and his side is attempting to paint Maria Sheffield by using guilt by association with phrases such as “She worked for Oxendine…” AND “She is a lawyer/lobbyist…”

Hudgens is attempting to paint himself in a positive light with the “honor by association” phrase of “small businessman.”

All of these types of “associations” by the Hudgens camp are a crock of bull in this race. And, we have the documented proof. So, brace yourselves…

Hudgens vs. Sheffield: Occupations

Ralph Hudgens

Hudgens describes himself as a “small businessman.” That’s not quite what his own financial disclosure says. That document (which his campaign submitted to the State Ethics Commission) describes him with the occupation of “Investor.”

What does Hudgens invest in? Mostly land, but some businesses.

What does Hudgens earn as a self-identified investor? Let’s look at his 2009 total income:

$308,727.00 = Other Income
$15,047.96 = Salaries, wages & commissions
$92,055.75 = Net income from Rents, Royalties, & Dividends
$1,872.80 = Income from dividends & interests

Net Worth of Senator Hudgens: $8.504 Million

Maria Sheffield

Maria Sheffield categorizes herself as an “Attorney” in her Financial Disclosure. She works at Burr, Forman, a 100+ year-old law firm.

What did she earn in 2009 as an “Attorney?” Let’s see:

$150,000 = Salaries & Wages
$ 12,000 = Net income from Rents, Royalties, & Dividends
$ 1,000 = Other Income
$ 500 = Income from Dividends & Interest

Net Worth of Maria Sheffield: $609,000

What did she earn as a “lobbyist?” ZERO. In fact…contrary to the lies coming out of the mouths of supporters of Ralph Hudgens, Sheffield has not worked as a lobbyist in the State of Georgia since 2006.

AND…in checking the lobbyist expenditures for Maria Sheffield in 2005 through 2010…she has ZERO expenditures as a lobbyist trying to influence legislators. And…has not been registered as a lobbyist since the end of 2006.

Hudgens vs. Sheffield: Ethics

Ahhhh…”ethics”…PV loves the sound of “ethics” in the morning…it sounds like…

With regards to ethics, this is where the Hudgens Camp may have lost their collective mind. Their efforts are to paint Sheffield as a “friend of the Ox,” therefore, she is just like the Ox. Guilt by association. Easy argument to make…a lot tougher to prove, however.

Who is the Ox? John Oxendine, former candidate for Governor in 2010. He is also a candidate who has had a LOT of allegations of ethics spoken about him, and some filed against him.

In a direct response, actually, to the publication of lots of Ox’s allegations, Maria Sheffield answered the question of where she stood on the subject of ethics and the influence of lobbyists on the Insurance Commissioner’s office with a section of her Website devoted to a video and the text of what her position will be:

Maria Sheffield on ethics as Insurance Commissioner

Now, the Hudgens campaign likes to wave the fact that Sheffield worked for Oxendine for 6 years in the Insurance Commissioner’s office in the regulatory department while Oxendine was Commissioner. Their repeated point will be that SINCE she worked for him in insurance, she must have learned all about how to do things in an unethical manner the way Oxendine has been accused of doing things. Yeah. Right. Makes perfect sense…NOT!

Here’s something to ponder: Does anyone think that a 100+ year-old law firm such as Burr Forman would not be able to detect an unethical lawyer who worked for them, and billed their clients money for that work?

Well, maybe Ralph Hudgens’ supporters would believe (and/or Hudgens’ undisclosed campaign consultant would have you believe) such bull.

But, in general, we at PV doubt that Sheffield would be anything other than the most honest and ethical person as she was raised, and how she carries herself…and be a separate & distinct person from whatever people presume The Ox to be.

NOW…as far as Ralph Hudgens’ stance on what type of ethics rules he would lay out for the office of Insurance Commissioner….in reviewing his website (at 11:00 PM on 7/26/2010)…he discloses absolutely no stance at all. No offer of a gift policy at all.

In fact…in the research and analysis of disclosures from lobbyists for the years 2005 through today of 2010, it is Hudgens who appears to be the candidate MOST likely to run the office of insurance commissioner more like The Ox would than Sheffield would…or, even perhaps The Ox himself.

You’re dying for proof of this statement, aren’t you? Our PV interns are happy to oblige with a PDF of our analysis of ALL gifts, treats, football tickets, meals, buck knives, hotel, motel, etc., etc., and etc that Senator Ralph Hudgens has accepted over the past 5 years from all sorts of lobbyists in the insurance industry, as well as other types of lobbyists (like lobbyists who work for the poor widdle wack-of-funding UGA and the infinite supply of cushy bowl game trips and football tickets that Hudgens has gorged himself on over the past 6 years).

Two things about this report:

1) Hudgens has accepted a total of over $20,000 in lobbyist “treats” over the years, and

2) Where you see a highlight of a maroon-color stripe over a row, that expenditure is for an amount valued at $50 or greater…just to help you identify some of the more outrageous amounts Hudgens has accepted in the past…and the amounts Hudgens has ZERO intention of refusing to accept if he becomes Insurance Commissioner of Georgia.

Here’s the report for your review.

Talk amongst yourselves while we skip on to the next head-to-head topic…

Hudgens vs. Sheffield: Contributors Who Contributed To Ox &….?

Ahhhh…the ‘ole guilt by association via the rumor that “Ox’s contributors also gave to Sheffield, therefore that’s another signal Ox and Sheffield are connected…” (whisper…whisper…whisper…)

Hey, no rumors there. Some of Ox’s contributors did give to Sheffield…but, some of Ox’s contributors also gave to Hudgens! Fancy that, eh?

AND…some contributors gave to Ox and Hudgens without giving to Sheffield. (GASP! No!!!)

AND…some contributors gave to ALL THREE people! Yup! Gave to the Ox, gave to Hudgens, and gave to Sheffield as well. OOooohhhhh…those dastardly contributors! How dare they break all the rules of “guilt by association!!!”

Proof? You got it. The PV interns have been hard at work on doing the analysis and making it nice and pretty for you to review (yes, even if you graduated from UGA OR you are merely a UGA fan, you will be able to understand these colorful presentations).

First, a guide to reading these PDFs:

Rows with White Text on Black Background are Oxendine contributions
Rows with Black Text on Yellow Background are Hudgens contributions
Rows with Black Text on Pink Background are Sheffield contributions

This is the PDF that shows a contributor donating to Ox and either Hudgens or Sheffield

This is the PDF that shows contributors who donated to ALL THREE candidates

Study this to your heart’s desire amongst yourselves. We have one more topic to cover with regards to Hudgens vs. Sheffield…

Hudgens vs. Sheffield: Who Might Really Be MORE Connected To The Ox?

PV just covered the subject of who contributed to The Ox who also contributed to either Hudgens or Sheffield…so, if THAT issue isn’t mitigated by now, PV has another arrow in the quiver to shoot on that subject if need be (which would entail a trip to the State Ethics Commission this week by the PV’s Senior Intern…but, hey, it’s only gas and $5 to park and there are some really nice people who work at the Commission anyway, and they may like seeing our Senior Intern…again…)

SO..let’s cover the final subject on this Insurance Commissioner’s run-off race, shall we?

It concerns the Hudgens’ whisper campaign regarding the personal connection between Sheffield and The Ox. (Here’s some advice to the Hudgens’ Camp: If you’re gonna start a whisper campaign, you might want to check to make sure your rear-end is covered. You know. Just in case someone might bother looking into things…)

The Hudgens’ supporters talk about how Maria Sheffield worked with the Insurance Commissioner’s office for 6 years, and therefore, she and The Ox are “tied at the hip” via ye ‘ole guilt by association.

Uh-huh. Golly…let’s look at Ralph Hudgens’ campaign disclosure for a moment: Click here for the link.

On or about Page 4 of Hudgens’ contributions being disclosed is one for $1000.00 being given by a consultant named Michael Shelnutt on 11/3/2009.

Who is Michael Shelnutt? For several years, Mr. Shelnutt served as Oxendine’s Assistant Commissioner of Insurance.

Hmmm…interesting connection there, doncha think? Maria Sheffield worked in the office as an employee learning the ropes of insurance regulation while she worked herself through multiple college degrees.

Shelnutt served as Ox’s Assistant Commissioner of Insurance. PV’s not entirely sure about this, but it kinda seems that if one is an “assistant commissioner” then one would kinda…sorta…be in a position to learn a whole lot more about the Commissioner one serves under than an employee who divided her free time between sleep and homework.

Mr. Shelnutt is attached to Hudgens’ campaign via, at minimum, a campaign contribution. What did Hudgens’ supporters say earlier about people who are connected to the Ox who contribute money to a candidate running to replace the Ox? Gosh…PV just cannot recall at the moment…maybe you readers can recall, eh?

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If I was the head of a country that lost a war, and I had to sign a peace treaty, just as I was signing, I'd glance over the treaty and then suddenly act surprised. 'Wait a minute! I thought we won!'


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