Senator Don Balfour (R-Snellville), who introduced the anti-free speech bill SB469 last spring, is in a bit of trouble.
Don Balfour has received reimbursements for conducting official business in Atlanta on days when lobbyists reported buying him meals and other perks in other states. This is a felony under Georgia law.
For example, on August 5th Balfour was reimbursed for Rules committee business and commuting from his home to Atlanta. Georgia Power disclosed they spent $50 on a tour of New Orleans he took that day while attending an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) meeting.
Per Senate rules, Balfour can take an unlimited number of “Committee Days” earning a $173 per diem doing public business. The senator took 103 of these days outside of the legislative session in 2011. While 86 of these days had the expense charged to the Rules committee, it does not meet when the legislature is not in session. Balfour defended himself by saying he could decide to have a Rules committee meeting out of session. That would be pointless and make no sense but then again, neither does most of the legislation passed in the state legislature. He also suggested he could be meeting with constituents.
Popular guy, Don Balfour is.
Elected officials may use campaign funds for “ordinary and necessary” expenses of holding office which can include funding for lodging while on official business. It’s not clear what category spending $29,000 to rent a luxury condo falls under.
On Friday, Balfour agreed to sign the Common Cause pledge to cap lobbyist gifts to lawmakers to $100 per lobbyist, per lawmaker per day. He also promised to co-sponsor this as well as legislation to make the Georgia General Assembly subject to the Open Records Act which is state law. Raise your hand if you think the good Senator suddenly had a “come to Jesus” moment. It’s a lot easier to kill or neuter legislation when you are elbow deep in it.
How to help: flood the phones of the Senate Rules Committee before June 1.
Call Senate Ethics Committee members and urge them to take action to remove Senator Don Balfour from his position as Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee. The committee will meet Friday, June 1 to decide
Balfour’s fate, so get your calls in before that date. You will find Senate Ethics Committee members names and phone numbers at this link.
Senate Ethics Committee members
Call the Attorney General, Sam Olens, and request an investigation into Senator Balfour’s abuses of the per diem and mileage reimbursements which he has claimed on expense reports.
Office of the Attorney General
40 Capitol Square, SW
Atlanta, Ga 30334
Call Fulton District Attorney, Paul Howard and request he investigate Senator Balfour. Lots of the expense reports were signed in Fulton County.
Fulton County District Attorney’s Office
136 Pryor Street, SW, Third Floor
Atlanta, GA 30303
Phone: (404) 612-4981 Fax: (404) 893-2769
Customer Service (404) 612-4887
Sources: Atlanta Unfiltered