The Senate Ethics Committee has decided to settle with Senator Don Balfour concerning the multiple ethics complaints against him. He will pay a $5000 fine and reimburse the state $350 according to the AJC. From Senator Josh McKoon’s Facebook page:
Statement Regarding Senate Ethics Committee Action Today:
Today the Senate Ethics Committee entered into a settlement with Sen. Don Balfour regarding the multiple ethics complaints which had been filed regarding the alleged abuse of per diem policy to include the filing of false reports and the failure to convene an Audit Subcommittee of the Senate Rules Committee in order to comply with Georgia law.
The Ethics Committee found that Sen. Balfour did fail to follow the per diem policy, filed false reports and failed in his responsibility to convene an Audit Subcommittee as required by Georgia law.
While I strongly agree with the Committee’s determination of guilt, I disagree with the penalty, which will not deter future serious breaches of Georgia law and is not as strong as penalties imposed when similar offenses have been committed in the past.
I will be preparing a minority report in the days to come which I will forward on to appropriate parties for consideration which will address these matters in much greater detail. Suffice it to say that the action taken today, in my opinion, further undermines public confidence in state government and reinforces the anything goes culture at the Capitol.
So, it sounds like Sen. Balfour got away with a slap on the wrist from the Senate Ethics Committee. It’s now up to his peers to determine his role in the Senate…including his future as Rules Chairman.