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Ex-Sen. Don Balfour: Georgia’s $100K senator

Ex-Sen. Don Balfour: Georgia's $100K senator
November 13, 2013 --

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.

Click here to read our original report on Balfour’s expenses and here to see our Transparency Profile of Balfour posted a few days later.

Balfour expense records under wraps until prosecution’s done

Balfour expense records under wraps until prosecution's done
October 2, 2013 --

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.

Balfour’s fund-raising plummets with GBI probe pending

Balfour's fund-raising plummets with GBI probe pending
July 8, 2013 --

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.

Balfour, Murphy lose key Senate chairs

Balfour, Murphy lose key Senate chairs
January 15, 2013 --

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.

Balfour lawyers up as GBI wraps $$$ probe

Balfour lawyers up as GBI wraps $$$ probe
January 10, 2013 --

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.

2nd senator tapped state account for campaign payment

2nd senator tapped state account for campaign payment
October 1, 2012 --

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.

McKoon: Censure Balfour, remove him as Rules chair

McKoon: Censure Balfour, remove him as Rules chair
August 21, 2012 --

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.

Ethics panel: ‘Substantial’ belief that Balfour broke rules

June 1, 2012 --

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.

Balfour pays back $800 for mileage, per diem

April 5, 2012 --

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.

Ethics complaint lodged against Senate Rules chairman

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. 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.

Spotlight on Don Balfour’s $29K condo, 123 committee days

Spotlight on Don Balfour's $29K condo, 123 committee days
February 6, 2012 --

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.

Deal refunds $130K in excess donations cited in ethics complaint

Deal refunds $130K in excess donations cited in ethics complaint
November 2, 2010 --

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.