Nov. 13, 2013 — Don Balfour was suspended from the Georgia Senate today over expense account discrepancies first reported by Atlanta Unfiltered in February 2012. Our examination of the senator’s 2011 expense account found Balfour had claimed per diem and mileage reimbursements for several days when he was out of state and therefore ineligible for them. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution later dug up similar examples from prior years.
The Senate Ethics Committee order Balfour to pay a $5,000 fine over the discrepancies, and a Fulton County grand jury indicted him in September for 18 counts of making false expense claims. Records show Balfour’s campaign committee last year paid nearly $80,000 in legal fees to defend him in those cases.
Oct. 2, 2013 — All expense records for state Sen. Don Balfour will be withheld from public view until a related criminal prosecution has concluded, Legislative Counsel Wayne Allen said today.
July 8, 2013 — Sen. Don Balfour has learned — the hard way — what a difference a year can make. Balfour today reported collecting just $2,000 in political donations for the first six months of 2013, following his demotion to chairing the Senate Reapportionment Committee. For the same period in each of the previous two years, he pulled in $137,000.
Jack Murphy lost his chairmanship of the Senate Banking Committee on Monday, two years after the feds sued him for his alleged role in a quarter-billion-dollar bank failure. At least Murphy got a new committee — Regulated Industries — with something to do. Don Balfour, as expected, was also removed as chair of the powerful Rules committee after paying a $5,000 ethics fine. Now he’ll chair one of the least significant, at least until the 2020 Census — Reapportionment.
Jan. 10, 2013 — The GBI has completed an investigation of state payments to soon-to-be-deposed Senate Rules chairman Don Balfour, but there’s no word yet as to its findings. Attorney General Sam Olens won’t say what the next step might be, if any. Balfour, meanwhile, appears to have retained Andersen, Tate & Carr, a Gwinnett County law firm that is defending ex-Gwinnett Commissioner Kevin Kenerly against bribery charges.
Oct. 1, 2012 — Sen. Jack Murphy collected $5,000 in May from his legislative expense account for a constituent newsletter that his campaign paid for, state records show. Murphy, who signed a sworn statement that he had paid for the newsletter personally, said the mix-up was inadvertent and that he has repaid his campaign account in full. An ethics watchdog says questions about this and other recently disclosed Senate expense reimbursements underscore a need for more scrutiny. “Senate leadership should come up with a plan to make sure this doesn’t continue to happen,” said William Perry, executive director of Common Cause Georgia.
Aug. 20, 2012 — Josh McKoon has called on his Senate colleagues to censure Don Balfour and remove him as chairman of that chamber’s Rules Committee for filing false expense reports.
The Senate Ethics Committee said today there’s “substantial cause” to believe Rules Chairman Don Balfour violated rules for expense reimbursements. The next step: A settlement with Balfour on public meetings that would air the details of the case.
Sen. Don Balfour, conceding he could not have been in two places at once, has returned nearly $800 to Georgia taxpayers. As Atlanta Unfiltered reported in February, Balfour claimed that much in expenses for working on state business in Atlanta on days when lobbyists said they had treated him for meals or entertainment at out-of-town conferences.
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. 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.
Sen. Don Balfour in 2011 spent more than $29,000 given to him by political supporters to rent a downtown Atlanta condo that he could use year-round. For eight-plus months of the year, though, records indicate he drove home to Snellville, rather than stay in the condo, on each of the 103 days that he worked on public business. Most of those days were charged to a committee — Rules — that never met.
Gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal has refunded $130,000 in campaign contributions that allegedly exceeded the legal limit. A campaign disclosure filed shortly before midnight Monday shows Deal returned many of the contributions cited in an Oct. 19 complaint to the State Ethics Commission. The refunds included more than $80,000 from three businessmen in Lawrenceville, Helena and Moultrie.