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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.
Who says public service has to be a sacrifice? Georgia legislators love to gripe about their crappy salaries, but Sen. Don Balfour last year knocked down more than $100,000 in publicly disclosed compensation, lobbyists’ gifts and other perks. He pocketed nearly $30,000 in per diem and $4,680 for his mileage commuting from Snellville to the Capitol; accepted lobbyists’ gifts worth more than $13,000; and spent $29,000-plus from his campaign account to rent an Atlanta condo year-round.
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.
Well, it’s probably a Republican, since they’re the ones whose campaigns are rolling in dough these days. But the phattest? That’s in the eye of the beholder, and Atlanta Unfiltered works only in cold, hard facts. We can tell you who’s spent what from campaign money for a crib during the 2010 legislative session, though. The biggest spender: state Sen. Don Balfour.
If House Speaker David Ralston’s ethics bill passes as written, Sen. Don Balfour and friends will have 562,000 reasons to thank him. Balfour, who’s said he won’t seek re-election, started 2010 with that many greenbacks in his campaign account. Georgia politicians such as Balfour would have been severely restricted in spending leftover campaign cash under a bill with broad bipartisan support. Now that proposal is all but dead, swept aside by Ralston’s substitute ethics bill.