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Ethics complaint lodged against Senate Rules chairman
By JIM WALLS
March 26, 2012 — State Sen. Don Balfour violated his oath of office and Georgia law by filing false requests for mileage reimbursements, a complaint filed with the Senate Ethics Committee alleges.
The complaint cites documents that show Balfour in September requested mileage reimbursements for commuting to the state Capitol on several days when lobbyists said they treated him to a meal or entertainment at out-of-town conferences.
Atlanta Unfiltered in February published those documents with a report that taxpayers paid Balfour for 123 days of per diem and mileage last year on top of to the 50 days that the Legislature convened as a whole.
Legislators get $173 in per diem. Senate leaders and some committee chairmen are allowed per diem for an unlimited number of “committee days” but are required to disclose “a brief statement of the nature of the legislative duties carried out” for each day they take. None of Balfour’s 2011 per diem requests do so.
All told, Balfour billed the state for $21,279 in out-of-session per diem and $4,191 for mileage in 2011.
The complaint, filed March 15 by a Lawrenceville resident, alleges:
Senator Don Kenneth Balfour improperly submitted expense reports claiming mileage from his primary residence in Snellville to Atlanta. The attached Committee Expense Voucher #73620, which Donald Kenneth Balfour signed and certified as true and correct on the 28th of September, 2011, stated he had driven to Snellville every day he conducted public business within that reporting period. Attached to this complaint are documents showing Donald Kenneth Balfour was clearly out of the State of Georgia on some of the same days he claimed mileage reimbursement.
These are clear and convincing facts that Donald Kenneth Balfour has violated his oath of office and Georgia law. This fact and his disclosed year-round rental of a condominium in Atlanta paid for by his PAC require further investigation as to the validity of all of his mileage reimbursement claims to and from his residence in Snellville, GA.
The complainant also asked for an investigation of Balfour’s receipt of $17,030 from his campaign account since 2003 to reimburse him for expenses. Atlanta Unfiltered reported last month that Balfour’s campaign had not disclosed the end recipient of those payments or, frequently, the nature of the expense, as required by state law.
FUTHERMORE, Since 2003, Balfour’s campaign has reimbursed him for $17,030 of expenses without disclosing the end recipient of the money and, frequently, without listing the nature of the expense. State law requires disclosure of those details so regulators and the public can assess whether the expenditures were legitimate.