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Gov. Kemp calls for indicted Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck to resign
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Republican state insurance commissioner nominee Jim Beck speaks during a Brian Kemp visit at Longstreet Cafe on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. - photo by Austin Steele

 Gov. Brian Kemp is calling for the resignation of Georgia’s insurance commissioner after he was indicted on federal charges of wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering that stem from alleged crimes that preceded his election.

Kemp, in a letter Wednesday, asked fellow Republican Jim Beck to resign, saying the indictment “severely undermines your ability to fulfill your official obligations to the people of Georgia.”

Beck was indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday, charged with a long list of crimes. He pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the 38-count indictment.

The indictment alleges a wide-ranging scheme conducted through several companies that included fraudulent billing and the sale of false sponsorships. The proceeds — in excess of $2 million — were used to pay for personal credit card bills, income tax bills and even to fund Beck’s election campaign, according to the indictment.

Beck, a Republican from Carrollton, was elected insurance commissioner in 2018.

The charges stem from Beck’s time as general manager of operations for the Georgia Underwriting Association, which was created to provide high-risk property insurance to Georgia homeowners. Beck is accused of devising a scheme to defraud the association of millions of dollars.

Bill Thomas, a lawyer for Beck, said in an emailed statement Tuesday that Beck “strongly denies” the allegations.

“He acted legally and in good faith,” Thomas wrote, adding that Beck “looks forward to clearing his good name.”

Thomas also noted that the allegations do not relate to Beck’s work as insurance commissioner and that he looks forward to continuing that work.

Under Georgia law, Beck may now choose to remain in office, voluntarily resign or ask to be suspended while under indictment. If he remains in office, after a 14-day period, which may be extended by the governor, the governor must appoint a review commission, which then has 14 days to determine if “the indictment relates to and adversely affects the administration of the office of the indicted public official and that the rights and interests of the public are adversely affected thereby,” according to the Official Code of Georgia. 

The commission can then recommend that Beck be suspended from office. 

“If, and only if, the commission recommends suspension, then the Governor shall review the findings and recommendations of the commission and may suspend the public officer from office immediately and without further action pending the final disposition of the case or until the expiration of his term of office, whichever occurs first,” according to the Official Code of Georgia.

Beck would immediately be removed from office upon a conviction.

News editor Nate McCullough contributed to this report.

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