Senate Ethics Committee: Cause Exists To Move Forward With Balfour Ethics Complaint

The AJC’s Aaron Shenin was dutifully kept away from the room by three state patrolmen where the Senate Ethics Committee met earlier today.  He did manage to wait from the 11am start time until a few minutes ago, when Ethics Committee Chairman Crosby read a statement indicating that there was cause to move forward with the ethics complaints against Don Balfour.  Hopefully someone brought him lunch while he was keeping the world informed via twitter.

“Substantial Cause” exists according to the committee’s findings, and they will now proceed towards a settlement with Balfour:

In its statement, the committee says,  “Any settlement will be a matter of public record and will be filed with the Secretary of the Senate. If no settlement is reached, the Committee will hold public meetings on the issue.”

Under Senate rules, the public meetings would be akin to a trial with Balfour allowed to present a defense. Senate rules give no guidance on what a negotiated settlement might involve.

We’ll call this progress. While nothing to celebrate, at least the process finally appears to be working.


  1. ted in bed says:

    I’m confident the settlement will be nothing more than a sternly worded letter read by a sternly looking politician.

  2. NoTeabagging says:

    they confuse the meaning transparency with invisibility.

    Why do I smell ‘Reimbursement,’ end of of story, coming?

    • Dave Bearse says:

      Reimbursement? The guy is sitting on a three-quarter million campaign chest. Any requirement that reimbursemnt not come from the campaign would be a joke. Balfour need only pocket legitimate per diems while he’s staying at his Midtown crash pad, to be reimbursed for his reimbursement.

      Based on the allegations, Balfour’s General Assembly service must be supervised. Nothing short of removal as Rules Chairman (beyond reimbursements), and being barred from another Chair, cuts it if the allegations are valid.

      • Jackster says:

        I’m still pushing for a loss in the primary for sen. Dbag… For that to happen, the senate needs to deliver a flacid punishment that the media will pick up over and over.

        • Dave Bearse says:

          I think it very likley that the matter won’t be addressed until after the primary. It would be much easier if Balfour loses the primary. The matter could be dropped, or the Committee could pile on, as politics dictate, with the primary an input in the politics.

      • NoTeabagging says:

        Dave, I meant Balfour will reimburse the state his erroneously received perdiems, mileage, etc.
        It will be interesting to see if he pays ALL of what others have estimated he bilked from the state in false claims.
        Apologies that was not clear. That is my prediction.

        • Dave Bearse says:

          Reimbursement isn’t a penalty. If reimbursement after being caught is all there is to it, it’s time to rob banks. I’m optimistic Balfour will be personally penalized in a significant way, by ballot box or his colleagues.

          After the personal penalty, the Senate will begin the expense reimbursement oversight required by statute and Senate rules. That won’t be enough though, since that was supposed to be done all along. I predict there will be some less than germaine “reform” that won’t eliminate the systemic rot. The Glenn Richardson affair resulted in transparency, a good thing, but Richardson’s rot at its core had nothing to do with transparency (unless those attempting to bed representation have to register, and report a price when they achieve it). Maybe I’ll be pleasnatly surpirsed that there will be a limitation on gifts.

          The matter is a demonstation that many in the “government should be run like a business” crowd make that point only when it suits other ends, or are clueless about running a business. What large business gives its employees unsupervised and almost wholly undocumented expense reimbursment? What management tells its employees, “Sure, get all the freebies you want from vendors, and leave to the vendors to write it down and report it to us.”

          There are others beyond Balfour that bear responsibility that Balfour wasn’t supervised. Others bear responsibility for the fact that generally speaking, General Assembly documentation required in support of per diem outside of Session or Committee meetings is inferior.

          Those names aren’t likely to be named. It’s less messy if it’s simply “common knowledge”.

          • ted in bed says:

            For those who don’t work in corporate America, Balfour’s actions would have resulted him and his boss being fired. Lying on an expense reimbursement is treated as a significant breach of trust and integrity.

            Oh, there is no way that his filings were an error. An error is forgetting how much you paid for lunch and put down a best guess figure. Or forgetting who was at the lunch. According to the AJC, he filed for in-Atlanta expenses for at least eight dates where “lobbyists reported buying him meals or lodging in other cities.” That is a consistent pattern of fraud.

            If you are looking for a reason not to vote for Sen. Rogers, this is it. As Majority Leader, he failed to setup the systems to make sure the Legislators couldn’t stealing taxpayer money. His silence and inaction implies that he thinks what Balfour did was ok.

            • Or perhaps Rogers knew that Balfour was Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee and would never let legislation to fix this problem get to the floor. In Georgia, it’s well known that you’d better not tick off the Chairman of Rules in either chamber, which would surely result in your legislation be ignored or sent to some sub-committee for “study”.

              • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                Something tells me that stopping the theft and plundering of the taxpayers’ money wasn’t exactly a top priority with this bunch.

            • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

              How dare you question the ethic and moral character of what are clearly two of our finest upstanding state legislators.

              Cut Senator Balfour some slack. What he did wasn’t fraud, it was all a simple misunderstanding.

              Haven’t you ever confused your lobbyist-funded vacation with the commute between your home and lobbyist-funded condominium on at least eight separate occasions?

              I know that I have as it is an occurrance that happens to me everyday.

              I can say from experience that it is very easy to confuse a lobbyist-funded stay in a five-star hotel with a stay in a lobbyist-funded condominium.

              It is also really easy to mistake a goodnight sleep in a five-star hotel with a 60-mile round-trip commute (Balfour probably taught that he was driving back-and-forth between Snellville and the State Capitol because he dreamed it while asleep in luxury hotels).

              It’s a very understandable mistake.

  3. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    Don’t forget a nice firm tap on the wrist.

    …There, that’ll teach him a lesson.

  4. debbie0040 says:

    There are some elected officials that become enamoured with the trappings of great power and being treated like a king by lobbyists. These elected officials begin to believe they are un-touchable and are so powerful, they are above following the rules/law. They take great pride in not following the rules/law as they believe this shows just how powerful they have become and they use it to stroke their enourmous ego.

    My personal opinion is that this applies to Sen. Balfour. It was not about the money, it was about him proving he was above following the rules/law. I believe there are other instances where Sen. Balfour may have violated the rules/ethics law if anyone looks closely enough – and I have heard other tax-payer groups are looking more closely…

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