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.
Atlanta’s public pension funds are $1.2 billion in the hole, largely the result of shortsighted decisions at City Hall over the last eight years. A new report calls, among other things, for slashing benefits for new employees. But those steps won’t help much with the funds’ current liabilities. Legally, the city cannot take back benefits that workers have already earned. Read how four candidates for mayor want to fix things.