State Insurance Commissioner candidate has controversial state work history

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Candidates for statewide office often showcase their work experience to convince voters they are the right person for the job.

But, one candidate for Insurance Commissioner's bio caught the attention of our FOX 5 I-Team. Jim Beck left two state jobs under a cloud of controversy and twice worked for the state while also working in the private sector.

When Insurance commissioner candidate Jim Beck campaigns, he likes to tout his years of insurance industry experience, like his time as chief of staff under the current Insurance Commissioner.

And he did, back in 2011. Beck was chief of staff for Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.

Commissioner Hudgens, who is supporting another candidate for insurance commissioner, says he told Beck to find another job. His reason: he says Beck had not been honest with him and an industry group.

“I told him he needed to find something else to do, I'd lost total confidence in him,” said Hudgens.

I said it sounds like a firing and he responded, “It pretty much does sound like a firing.”

State records show Beck resigned. Beck sent us an email he says Commissioner Hudgens wrote when he left touting his "invaluable leadership" and that "Jim will be sorely missed."

Commissioner Hudgen's spokesperson told us the Commissioner didn't remember writing the email and that Jim Beck had access to that email account.

We had interviewed Jim Beck earlier in his home, but wanted to ask him about what Commissioner Hudgens told us about that email.

Russell: An email he doesn't remember writing.

Beck: You believe that right?

Russell: I'm just telling you what he told me.

Beck: Yeah, right. I'm done.

Later, Beck sent me a copy of a December 2011 Proclamation, signed by Commissioner Hudgens, saying what a great job he had done for the department. 

It was February of 2012, Beck left the Commissioner's office and began work as the General Manager for a private insurance company - Georgia Underwriting Association.

At that very same time, he took a second job with the state Prosecuting Attorney's Council. Hudgens knew about the insurance job, but not the state job.

Beck says he took the state job so he could keep his state health insurance to cover his wife, who earlier had cancer.

“It wasn't forty hours it was something like thirty hours,” Beck said.

State records show it was a full time, 40-hour-a-week job, making $19,600 a year.

Russell: Were you given the taxpayers a fair shake? if you're doing that job at the same time you have a full time job in the private industry?

Beck: Well first of all, you don't know what my job was and you don't know if it was full time or not you assume it's full time you don't know that.

Beck worked for two district attorneys and both said he did a good job. Both said they didn't know he had a second job in the private sector.

William Perry, a good government watchdog, finds that unsettling.

“The fact that you are a candidate now for office and don't include that work for the government on your bio, and you're running for state office, that seems a little deceptive, said Perry.

We found two other state jobs Beck left off of his LinkedIn bio. In 2005, Beck took a job at the Department of Community Affairs. He already had a job as a registered lobbyist for Nationwide Insurance lobbying Georgia legislators.

State records show he was a full-time Division Director and would have made $102,000 if he had worked a full year.

Beck insists he was only a consultant for the state.

“I sent them an invoice and they paid me. I sent an invoice every 2 weeks and they wrote me a check,”

Mike Beatty, his boss at the time, confirms the job was fulltime and says he had no idea Beck had another job at the same time. But he says Beck did a good job and left after 4 months.

We found more workplace controversy back in 1995. Beck was Chief of Staff for Lt. Governor Pierre Howard. But that same year he was embroiled in a bitter divorce. According to court records, his wife claimed he was "physically and mentally abusive"

“There was no physical abuse. There was emotional abuse on both sides,” Beck said.

But, in a statement, his ex-wife said, "I was the victim of both emotional and physical abuse." And she added: "It is appalling for him to say that there was emotional abuse on both sides of the marriage."

The judge ordered Jim Beck to attend a 6-month program called "Men Stopping Violence."

“It was 25 years ago. My ex-wife and I still go to the same church. It was a divorce. It was ugly,” said Beck.

Beck resigned from that state job. Beck's own attorney at the time wrote that the allegations of spousal abuse "cost Mr. Beck the best job he has ever held."