Don Balfour kept Gold Dome watchers waiting today before finally qualifying for re-election to the Georgia Senate. His peers now must again begin the handwringing over their jurisdiction or lack thereof (hint: you have jursidiction; please find the required courage) to deal with the ethics complaint filed against him for multiple filings of false expense reports.
Two challengers have filed against Balfour. Steve Ramey of the TEA Party Patriots filed yesterday as expected. Travis Bowden, who ran agaisnt Balfour in 2010 and strattles the line between the TEA Party and more establishment elements of the party filed today as well.
Not filing was Debbie Dooley, Co-Founder of the Atlanta TEA Party and board member of the TEA Party Patriots. Dooley just released the following statement:
It is with careful consideration that I am withdrawing my name as a candidate for the State Senate in a primary challenge to Don Balfour. I am committed to working for change in this district, as well as seeing ethics charges filed against Senator Balfour come to a just conclusion. However, there were three items which affected my ability to commit to this race with all it would require:
1) After discussing the opportunity with my current employer, it was not apparent that I would be able to devote the time required to the session and maintain my current job. I must continue to work for a paycheck on a daily basis like most Gwinnett residents.
2) It has become clear that there would be an inherent conflict in my board position with the TEA Party Patriots and being a candidate. I have made previous commitments to the TEA party and will see them through.
3) When news of my potential candidacy broke, those seeking to obfuscate the unethical and possible illegal actions of Don Balfour chose to use my filing of an ethics complaint against him as evidence of my personal political ambitions. To be clear on this point, I have none. I only became aware during the last few days that the redistricting process had added me to this district, and only considered a candidacy after a candidate I had recruited decided not to run. Tea Party activists across Georgia will be watching the decision of the Senate Ethics Committee to see if they attempt to white-wash the complaint and just give Sen. Balfour a slap on the wrist. If this happens, tea party activists from across the state will come to the Attorney General’s office and ask Sam Olens to investigate the complaint. There is a general feeling among tea party activists that the Legislature is like a good ole boys club where it is strongly encouraged that incumbents not be challenged in primaries and wrong doing of other legislators is covered up. It is not lost on tea party activists that the Senate Ethics Committee scheduled the meeting/hearing after the qualifying ended.
Steve Ramey of Founding Fathers Tea Party Patriots qualified for this seat, and is prepared to do what needs to be done to return this district to conservative and ethical representation. He will be a good candidate and a great Senator serving the people of his district-not powerful special interests. I urge everyone to show him the support that you were prepared to show me.