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    Senate Rules chairman collects $85K with no opposition

     

    don balfourEveryone wants to be your friend when you’re chairman of the Senate Rules Committee. Just ask Don Balfour.

    The Snellville Republican (right) has collected nearly $85,000 in campaign donations since Jan. 1, according to his latest campaign disclosure. Several donors seemingly forgot that it’s illegal to donate money during the legislative session; Balfour reported receiving four donations totaling $2,050 on March 22.

    The top donors? Aflac, the billboard industry, state Sen. Eric Johnson, United Health Services (a Toccoa-based nursing home and pharmacy chain), and Coca-Cola. The full list includes many of the most active special-interest political funds in Georgia.

    No one’s even run against Balfour since 2004, when he coasted to re-election with about 75 percent of the vote, knocking off Democratic opponent Enock Vixamar.

    Since then, with no opposition, state records show Balfour’s campaign fund has still managed to raise $683,000.

    What’s the Rules Committee do? It places bills on the Legislature’s calendar. Unless it chooses not to — which means the Senate will never, ever vote on your bill.

    That’s why everyone wants to be the chairman’s friend.

    How’s he spend it? In 2009, his campaign paid:

    • $4,404 to himself, primarily for travel and miscellaneous expenses, plus $1,000 to American Express for travel expense. The report provides little other detail. State law requires more specific disclosure than Balfour reported. The law is intended to inform the public about the nature of political expenses and the end recipients of the money.
    • $4,300 to Johnson for Georgians, the committee for state Sen. Eric Johnson’s campaign for lieutenant governor, on June 25. (Johnson for Georgians gave Balfour $4,366 three days later.)
    • $5,900 to the Committee to Elect Eric Johnson in January. (It’s unclear which of Johnson’s three campaign funds that was, since none have filed disclosures yet for 2009.)
    • $26,228 to Landmark Consulting of Duluth for campaign work.
    • $9,000 for “apartment rental” “house rental”
    • $9,170 for “house rental” deposit, utilities and cleaning fees.

     

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