With Don Balfour No Longer Hiding In An Anteroom, Wendy Saltzman Asks Him Some Of Her “Tough Questions”

On day 39 of this legislative session, CBS Atlanta reporter Wendy Saltzman tried to ask Don Balfour some of her branded “tough questions”. He remained in an anteroom and eventually left the Capitol through a rear door.

This was fresh on the heels of Balfour ending his run for the 7th Congressional District and announcing he was leaving politics altogether, only to eventually end up qualifying for re-election. He now faces a primary challenge from Republicans Travis Bowden and Joe Anderson, as well as a Democratic challenge from Rashid Malik.

At stake is more than a Senate seat, as Balfour is chairman of the powerful Rules Committee, giving him essentially a veto power over any bill by deciding what bills are ultimately allowed to move to the floor for a vote of the full Senate.

Saltzman has pieced together a paper trail that suggests there is some form of relationship between Balfour and a high profile lobbyist, Marcia Rubensohn, who represents the Georgia Municipal Association.

Rubensohn has traveled on official business to Israel with Balfour and on a press release was identified as part of the Georgia Senate. There’s also documentation that Rubensohn, as a lobbyist, paid over $600 for a hotel room in Savannah for Balfour in 2008.

Balfour explained that she was needed on the trip to Israel because she was Jewish. He can’t seem to remember why she would have paid for his hotel room in Savannah.

You can read Saltzman’s report here (with video link), the Georgia Municipal Association’s response here, and Balfour’s response that he has cracked down on illegal immigration here.

I’ll post this quote from Saltzman here and ask the first half be read with added emphasis:

So far there is no evidence any laws were broken although we have discovered GMA failed to disclose another trip they paid for Balfour and three other Georgia state representatives to attend last year.

34 comments

  1. B Balz says:

    Just Damn. Is this the other shoe? Or nothing at all, political muckraking at it’s worst?

    One of the most powerful men in Georgia accused publicly. Say it ain’t so.

  2. GOPwits says:

    And the dominoes begin to fall… It’s time for a purge of all these career politicians that have gotten too cozy at the Capitol with their inappropriate relationships with these lobbyists…

    God and to think one of these guys who had an inappropriate relationship with a lobbyist is running for Labor Commissioner (Mark Butler). The gaul…

    It just makes politics so disgusting and dirty… And to think there is still so much more to come…

    • hannah says:

      If the universal franchise can’t be reversed, then keeping control of the electoral process can only be achieved by “trimming” the rolls with alternative strategies. Making the process disgusting and not worth taking part in has been a proven success. Low voter participation rates are not a happenstance.

    • Ambernappe says:

      I think you mean “gall” – Gaul (gaul) is an area of ancient western Europe approximating modern day France.

      But I agree with the concept.

    • Lady Thinker says:

      I have never heard anyone accuse Karen of having any inappropriate relationships. Do you think that is a male politician thing that women have no interest in or time for?

      • Doug Grammer says:

        Oh pulease…I know you just didn’t say that all men stray and that no women do. It’s great that Sec. Handel hasn’t been accused of an inappropriate relationship with a member of the opposite sex. As far as I know, neither has the Governor, the current Speaker or either of our two US Senators.

        Shameless and pathetic.

  3. Doug Grammer says:

    Yawn….more mud. All the questions asked seem to be answered except for the hotel room in Savannah. A good reporter would have shown that the lobbyist was there and did not have a hotel room for herself. Then it would seem like there’s a little more than smoke. Right now, it’s just another rumor during campaign season.

  4. Booray says:

    I still believe journalists should actually prove something when they do stories. Amazing, I know.

    Saltzman once again proves she is the worst “journalist” in Georgia…

  5. c_murrayiii says:

    Yeah, this awful reporting, though it hardly qualifies for the phrase, is why I don’t watch local news. The cheap camera tricks designed to add “drama” to the story end up being stomach-turning and seem designed to appeal to morons who can’t think for themselves and are easily impressed. Whatever you may think about Balfour, this piece is just poor. If he did something wrong, I need a better source than a slimy “journalist” like this.

    • rugby says:

      A good source would be the two people in question. Both of whom either couldn’t or wouldn’t give decent answers to such a “slimy” journalist.

      Just saying.

      • Booray says:

        Would you want somebody to walk up to you at work and shove a mike in your face with no preparation and say, “so, are you screwing one of the bosses?” The whole trick is designed to make people look disoriented and therefore guilty. It’s psychological warfare more than journalism. From what I hear, Saltzman is famous for this “tactic” and it’s probably why 46 sucks the bottom of the rankings tank in Atlanta…

        • rugby says:

          “Would you want somebody to walk up to you at work and shove a mike in your face with no preparation and say, “so, are you screwing one of the bosses?”

          No but I could also answer the question without any preparation. If you need preparation you are starting off on the wrong foot.

          • Booray says:

            Here’s the question: what was left on the cutting room floor? What if she got her bearings and said, “No, that’s flat out false” and they didn’t put that in because it goes against the storyline they clearly wanted to write in this piece.

            Anybody who thinks that couldn’t have happened is out of touch with the reality of modern info-tainment, particularly was practiced by 46/Saltzman…

      • c_murrayiii says:

        I have no opinion on the issue, honestly, and sadly, it wouldn’t surprise me if something was going on. I know politicians sometimes let the power get to them and they think they are above getting caught. But this story cited some rather minor details as proof of a scandalous affair. It seemed like she was reaching desperately. It helps the ratings, but it undermines faith in journalism and respect for the profession.

        Also, I’d say Balfour didn’t seem phased much by her when she talked to him on the street. He gave reasonable answers, I mean the liklihood of remembering every instance of contact with a particular lobbyist (there are hundreds up there after all) seems like asking a lot. Further, if I was the woman, I’d be dodgy too, the reporter basically called her an adultress.

    • Romegaguy says:

      It took them 2 months to come up with “nothing wrong here” and “no comment”? Really?

  6. HowardRoark says:

    It should be added that Wendy Saltzman is not the only source for this. It’s been whispered about for a while now in certain circles.

    • Doug Grammer says:

      Whispered? That certainly makes it true. If there’s truth to it, show it and be done with it. I’ve known Sen. Balfour for years, but not so well that he’s invited me over for dinner. We did serve waffles to the CR’s back in 2004 in honor of Sen. Kerry. Sen. Balfour seems like a Sen. I would want to meet with more often than other Senators if I were a lobbyist.

      I don’t know what the man has done. If Satlzman can prove it, great. If not, it’s just spreading a rumor that hurts the Sen. and his family to boost ratings.

      • AlanR says:

        This isn’t a court of law, and the reporter doesn’t have supoena power. At some point, you know all you’re going to know and have to just go with it.

        Not to defend Saltzman, but I would rather have the mudslinging and sort it out for myself, than wait for the perfect combination of facts and information that will never be available.

        The reason the reporter knows about the hotel room is because it was reported under the ethics act — the lobbyist provided it to the elected official. What the lobbyist does for herself is her business and I’m happy the reporter can’t find it out.

  7. In The Arena says:

    This is one of the worst documented set of accusations I have ever seen. Welcome to the Karen Handel University School of Witch Hunt Politics. She should run for Mayor of Salem.

    • Lady Thinker says:

      Why would you assume Karen is behind this? How does she find the time to run her campaign while destroying Deal’s, Ox’s, Johnson’s, Balfour’s Richardson’s? You give her way too much power for evil.

      I wish Karen e did have the power you attribute to her because she would have this election in the bag and have time to get eight hours of sleep each and every night plus free up her weekends.

      I’ll have to ask her how she manages the next time I see her at one of the July 4th events.

  8. zedsdeadbaby says:

    BREAKING NEWS: Karla Drenner not gay

    Tonight on Channel 46, Wendy Saltzman discloses that Karla Drenner has been dishonest with the people of Georgia, and that she is not, in fact, gay.

    According to ethics commission reports uncovered by Channel 46, Drenner has attended 10 baseball games with tickets provided by lobbyists. Every game she attended, EVERY ONE, was provided by Glennis E. Barnes, a male lobbyist for Georgia Power. Clearly, there is some relationship between the two, and Wendy Stalzman’s Tough Questions will get to the bottom of it.

    • redrock says:

      Funny and Accurate.

      I found one expenditure to Marcia Rubensohn in the last 18 months of his reports for $222.88. Not exactly working for his campaign.

      1 in every 10 meals was for Balfour? Hmm – might be because he is the Rules chairman.

      This is all a BIG stretch.

      • Jace Walden says:

        But…but…it’s been whispered about for years, in “certain circles”.

        Certain circles=People who don’t like Don Balfour.

        The rumor-mongering here on Peach Pundit is really hitting its stride.

        • HowardRoark says:

          To be clear, I’m not condoning the rumor mongering, just saying that when something gets bounced around enough eventually it comes out. Most of the time, via a blog since they presumable have a looser “filter” than MSM. The fact that the local CBS station ran with this is a little surprising.

          I will say this, though…there are several legislators who spend years working under the gold and manage to stay above accusation of impropriety. So when things like this start to get around, people start applying the smoke/fire theorem. Human nature.

              • Doug Grammer says:

                So according to you, no person can be in leadership unless they are unethical. If we removed all of those folks, and elected others, the new leadership would be unethical. logic = fail

                People (including legislators) aren’t perfect and the higher they go in leadership the more we come to understand that they aren’t perfect. It’s because we are looking at them closer, not because they are more unethical.

  9. strident_hack says:

    Headline: “Homosexuality Rampant among Legislators and Lobbyists” Investigative facts: male lobbyists pay for hotel rooms for legislators at “events”, and ethics reports do not indicate that they also paid for a separate room. Conclusion: Elton John could become Speaker of the House.”

    Details at 4, 5, 6, 10 and 11 . . . .

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