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.
July 24, 2012 — For a guy who votes to pass laws, Rep. Rashad Taylor sure has a hard time obeying them. Under Georgia law, Taylor’s disclosure of personal finances was due June 9. Six weeks later, he hadn’t filed it. (UPDATE: He filed it July 25, a day after this article was posted.) He’s filed just two of seven disclosures of campaign finances due since June 2010. Neither reports any contributions, even though registered donors reported giving him $15,000-plus in that time. Nor do Taylor’s disclosures report any expenditures, so the public has no clue what he may have done with the money that he hasn’t reported collecting.
Ronnie Chance has neglected to disclose several aspects of his personal finances in recent years, most notably a condo in downtown Atlanta that he purchased from lobbyist Christina Searles Tai. Chance also omitted his service on the boards of directors of three local non-profit groups. (After the Transparency Project asked him about the omissions, Chance corrected several years’ disclosures to include the condo and his board memberships.)
Rep. Ralston, who championed a 2010 law that he touted as ethics reform, accepted a $17,279 lobbyist-funded trip to Europe later that year for himself, his chief of staff and their families. Ralston has had recurring tax difficulties, facing state and federal tax liens of more than $500,000, and he’s needed a little help paying off those debts.