Georgia’s suspended insurance commissioner found guilty on 37 charges of fraud; voters to decide in 2022 on suspending pay for indicted officials

Image of the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta, Georgia.

On July 22, a jury found former Georgia Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck (R) guilty on 37 counts of fraud, including mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and tax fraud.

Beck was elected to the office on November 6, 2018, and was suspended from the office by Governor Brian Kemp (R) on May 16, 2019.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in late January that Beck had been receiving pay and benefits since being indicted for federal wire fraud, mail fraud, and money laundering charges in May 2019. The charges included allegations that Beck stole over $2 million from his former employer, the Georgia Underwriting Association, and used those funds to pay for his 2018 campaign. Because Beck was suspended and did not resign, the state had been compensating him as well as John King, Kemp’s appointment to fill the position during Beck’s suspension.

Following the verdict, insurance commissioner John King said, “The state of Georgia is no longer paying for two commissioners. We took him off the payroll within hours of the jury coming back.”

Beck was placed on house arrest until sentencing, which was set for October 8, 2021.

Voters in Georgia will decide in 2022 whether to amend the state constitution to suspend compensation for the following public officials while suspended from office due to a felony indictment:

1. any member of the General Assembly;

2. Governor;

3. Lieutenant Governor;

4. Secretary of State;

5. Attorney General;

6. State School Superintendent;

7. Commissioner of Insurance;

8. Commissioner of Agriculture; or

9. Commissioner of Labor

Currently, under the state’s constitution, assembly members and public officials who are suspended from office due to the indictment for a felony still receive compensation until they are convicted. Officials that are reinstated to their position would receive pay that was withheld under the amendment.