Atlanta Unfiltered took a look and what Legislators spend on their housing and came up with some interesting numbers. The taxpayers reimburse each Legislator $173 per day for meals and lodging but many spend their campaign money on meals and lodging in addition to the per diem. The most lavish spender? Senator Don Balfour, who lives in Snellville, about a 30-40 minute drive depending on traffic.
Sen. Don Balfour (right) of Snellville didn’t break out the monthly rent, but he’s spent $7,750 so far this year on “session apartment rental.” If that’s for January through March, he’s paying nearly $2,600 a month. He paid the same gentleman $1,200 in December for “condo rental” and $9,170 last May in connection with a house rental.
Rep. Richard Smith of Columbus paid an average of $2,373 a month to rent a unit at Post Renaissance Apartments in Marietta. He also paid $288 in January for “residence set-up.”
Rep. Jerry Keen of St. Simons Island, $1,900 a month. Since October, Keen has also spent nearly $4,500 on “furnishings for official lodging.” That included $2,291 to West Elm, a brand of Williams-Sonoma; $1,116 to New Avenues, a lease-to-own outlet based in Alpharetta; $640 to Pier One Imports; $307 to Bed, Bath & Beyond; and $103 to Crate & Barrel.
Sen. Tommie Williams of Lyons paid an average of $1,897 in January and February to rent an apartment. Nothing reported for March.
Spending campaign funds on expenses related to doing you job as a Legislator is perfectly legal, and I’m not saying it should be outlawed, but do Legislators need to spend up to $2600 per month on lodging? Sure, the taxpayers aren’t paying all of that but lobbyists are. Also, it’s one thing for Jerry Keen, who can’t drive home at night, to spend money on lodging, but a Senator from Snellville?