Balfour Lies To Colleagues; Appoints Lame Duck Audit Subcommittee

Well, we have a written  response from Don Balfour regarding the unfortunate situtaion he’s found himself in.  Balfour agreed to pay a $5,000 fine yesterday for stealing $1,150 dollars from taxpayers.  He’s also had to pay that money back.  He also has been told that it would be a good idea if he followed state law that he’s been ignoring for years regarding his requirement to have an audit sub-committee.  This is where the lies continue.  His email:

Dear Caucus Mebers,

FYI, I want to make you aware of this. I am sending this letter to the Lieutenant Governor.

August 23, 2012

 

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle

Room 240, State Capitol

Atlanta, GA  30334

Dear Lieutenant Cagle:

It has been brought to my attention that, before my watch as Rules Chairman, a law was passed authorizing the Senate Rules Committee to appoint a Senate Audit Subcommittee.

And it was, further, brought to my attention that during the Joe Frank Harris’ administration, the Senate decided to discontinue this authorization and not have an audit subcommittee because the Senate felt that sufficient procedures were in place that eliminated the need for this added expense to the state for not less than once every two months meetings, that essentially only served to review senator’s expenses that the Fiscal Affairs Office had already reviewed and approved.

However, since the existence of this law has been brought to my attention, as Chairman, I have decided to reinstitute the Senate Audit Subcommittee of the Rules Committee, unless and until this law is removed off the books.  In this regard, I am appointing the following Senators to serve on the Senate Audit Subcommittee from now until January, 2013.

Senator Bill Hamrick, Chairman

Senator Greg Goggins

Senator John Bulloch

Senator Johnny Grant

Senator Jack Hill

Senator Bill Hamrick will serve as Chairman of this subcommittee.  This subcommittee will meet not less than once every 2 months, to review Senators’ expense reports that will be provided to this subcommittee from the Fiscal Affairs Office.

Sincerely,

Don Balfour

9th Senatorial District

The first problem here?  Balfour has known about the audit subcommittee requirement since at least 2010, as reported from this AJC story by Aaron Gould Sheinin:

Lawmakers don’t have to submit receipts to justify the $173 expense or keep a  mileage log or even document the mileage driven. But once a month, the  Fiscal Office produces a report detailing how much each lawmaker was paid in  travel and expenses. In the House, the report goes to Rep. Chuck Sims  (R-Ambrose), the chairman of the Committee on Information and Audits. In the  Senate, it goes to Balfour, the Rules Committee chairman.

Sims said he checks the report each month, as required by state law. If  anything looks unusual or raises a red flag, he’ll alert the speaker.  Balfour said he looks it over.

But state law says that the Senate Rules Committee must have an audits  subcommittee “to examine and review, not less than once every two  months, legislative expenditures, including all vouchers submitted by  members of the Senate, as provided for in this Code section, for which the  members have received payment. The subcommittee is authorized to issue  reports of its examination and review.”

No such subcommittee exists.

Balfour has knowingly violated state law for at least two years by not having an audit subcommittee to review expense reports.  Those same expense reports he has used to steal money from the taxpayers.  His collegues have also known about this, but refused to stand up to him, demand accountability, or that he operate his commiteee within the required laws of the  state of Georgia.

They’ve started with a $5,000 fine.  Minimal and offensive to someone who has flauted law and his position of power for personal gain.   More is required of the Senate in this situation.  Each Republican Senator is now complicit, with the exception of Senator Josh McKoon who continues to be the chamber’s lone voice in speaking out against inherent institutional corruption.

And about his newly appointed subcommittee?  It’s the capitol’s worst kept secret that subcommittee Chairman Hamrick will be appointed judge in the next few weeks.  Greg Goggins is retiring.  Johnny Grant lost in last month’s primary.  3 of 5 members of this new subcommittee won’t be Senators in January.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

It’s business as usual in the Senate.

33 comments

  1. gsujohn says:

    Charlie, not sure what your readership is amongst the fine people of the 9th State Senate District, but appears we have at least 14K+ opportunities…at least I would like to think so.

    DON BALFOUR (I) (REP) 62.76% 14,083

  2. cheapseats says:

    what’s that famous definition of stupidity? something like doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

    who votes for a guy like this? do they pray over hotdogs?

    • CobbGOPer says:

      Honestly, I think it’s that Gwinnett County must just be overwhelmingly populated with criminals. In turn, they elect mostly criminals (with major exceptions like Buzz, who doesn’t have a larcenous bone in his body, so I’m told), as evidenced by Balfour, and the plethora of county commissioners currently behind bars or facing down a jail term.

      That’s why I stay the heck away from that county. Place is dangerous.

  3. BobG says:

    During redistricting, Balfour ceded the southern portion of Gwinnett to the Democrats and migrated his district northward. I don’t know the numbers, but I am sure that a significant percentage of those who voted for him this time voted for the first time in the 9th Senate district.

    His move northward also prevented several potential candidates from challenging him.

  4. debbie0040 says:

    That 2010 article where Balfour talks about the sub-committee was mentioned in my complaint. The Senators chose to ignore it in order to take care of their own.

    Charlie is right, all the GOP Senators except for Josh McKoon are complicit in this. They should be demanding Balfour be removed as Rules Chairman and Tommy Williams needs to call a meeting of the COA to remove Balfour. any Senator on the COA that votes to make Balfour Rules Chairman deserves to be primaried and when they are this time, they won’t have our support.

    The Senate is clearly not functional the way it is now..

    • Bob Loblaw says:

      You lose 12-1 and think you’ve been denied justice.

      You win 74% and brag unabashedly about how much success you’ve had.

      You’re gonna “primary” some folks, huh? Why didn’t you run? You said it was because another TEA Party “leader” was going to run. Why don’t you declare, right now, that you are a candidate for the 9th Senate District in 2014?

      • Daddy Got A Gun says:

        Besides all of the taxpayers losing while Balfour steals via expense account, how did Debbie or the Tea Party lose? She wasn’t allowed to testify and none of us were allowed to hear what was discussed or the facts, all of them.

        This closed door settlement looks alot like a coverup or one part of a quid pro quo to me. We should have known the fix was in when the committee ignored Debbie’s complaint and decided to use its own.

        The next step on the Balfour redemption tour is that he’ll ask for his Legislative pension back.

        Republican Senators better watch out, they are becoming an alot like the Dems when they were in power. Fancy legal language in fancy settlement documents doesn’t hide the stink of corruption very long.

        We now know 13 Senators who think its ok to steal via fraudulent documents submitted to the government. When Balfour is returned to his position as chairman of Rules, we’ll know that the entire Republican caucus is corrupt as well.

        • Bob Loblaw says:

          Hogwash. 13 Senators fined a colleague who returned all relevant funds to the State in an in camera meeting that is clearly acceptable under the rules of this Committee, Congressional Ethics Committees and likely most Committees of similar jurisdiction in other states. How is that an action that says “its ok to steal via fraudulent documents”? He agreed it was wrong. They fined him. He owned up to it. They found fault. Where its the “its ok” part in this?

          She lost because her side didn’t win. She’s on the “its ok if my favorite Senator breaks the law but I don’t like Balfour and am too chickensh!t to run against him” side. You must be her waterboy.

          • Daddy Got A Gun says:

            Except, he didn’t really own up. He was outed by Atlanta Unfiltered and the AJC. If the AJC hadn’t done followup work, more of his erroneous filings would have been undetected and unreimbursed.

  5. Profit! says:

    Has it ever occurred to any of you that Balfour may actually represent his constituents well and they have continued to return him to office because of that? What does the average voter in his senate district think of him? I’m sorry but the tiny universe of the hyper-involved that actually blog on here and eat, drink, and live this stuff is not the average voter in Gwinnett. However, I will say that looking at some of the people who have been elected in Gwinnett, the average voter does not have that great of a track record.

    • wicker says:

      Yep. The voters elect Balfour because he gives them – or at least represents – exactly what they want. Instead of questioning Balfour, you are better off questioning the people that elect him. If that was a fair question for the people who elected Bill Campbell and the APS school board, it is a fair question for the folks who have given us this current group of GOP leadership at the local and state level, and elected largely similar types to Congress and Senate from this state.

      • John Konop says:

        Simeon,

        That is not right! You may disagree with Debbie, but that steps over the line. Bob and Debbie have had a multi-thread tough debate on this issue, and they both have made valid points. Debbie and I have had issues we agree on, as will as disagree, it has never been personal. I consider Debbie a friend and hopes she stays in Georgia. You should apologize to Debbie.

        • NoTeabagging says:

          I appreciate those that do, but I for one, have been threatened with legal action by candidates when I asked them to obey laws and ordinances.

      • debbie0040 says:

        Not an excuse at all. I am going to try to find a house in the district but the ones I have liked so far are not. And Bob, at least I am not coward and use my real name. What are you afraid of?

        I have found another very well known and well connected person that is giving serious thought to challenging Balfour in 2012. And no it is not Clay Cox.

        • Bob Loblaw says:

          I’m sure Sen. Balfour would help you find a home. That way he could beat you, too and send you back to the help desk.

          Coward? C’mon. You can do better than that.

  6. Dave Bearse says:

    I don’t know whether a common cheat like Balfour refering to “my watch” is hilarious or disgusting.

  7. gsujohn says:

    I seem to recall one of the most dysfunctional members of the Senate Leadership gaining an endorsement from our friends in the Tea Party movement. One Chip Rogers. While the candidate opposing him may not have been the strongest and was a TIA supporter, he did not waver on his support when confronted and knowingly saddle his constituents with a penalty for not having approved it. Just wishing the TPP would live up to its potential…but am not seeing it.

    • Bob Loblaw says:

      @gsujohn:

      With more TEA parties than counties (aka too many chiefs and not enough Indians), organizations will collapse. You’re just seeing the start. Its not a party, its a movement. Movements come to an end by definition.

      • debbie0040 says:

        Bob, you wish it would come to an end but it won’t. Everyone said in 2009 we would never last. FYI, Tea Party Patriots raised 21 million dollars last year and it is looking like we will surpass that in 2012. So keep dreaming. We will be here to hold elected officials accountable for decades to come so get used to it.

        • jbgotcha says:

          I just wish the Tea Party would support a wider variety of political thought and worker’s rights. A healthy democracy needs a strong liberal class to hold the corporate powers and oligarchs in check. We are in too deep and there may be no way out if people stay trapped in this illusion of America we have been sold for the past 70 years. More denial will eventually lead to a quicker demise for this empire.

        • Bob Loblaw says:

          If the TEA Party doesn’t rally behind Mitt Romneycare and defeat Obama then your activists are going back to the couch. Especially so if the Dems keep the Senate. In my best Nixon impression, “they’re not gonna have ol’ Obama to kick around” in the next campaign. I’m as hopeful as anyone that we can do it. It just feels like 1996 around here against a tough, well-spoken opponent with star power amongst his base against a guy the Republicans had already decided once that they didn’t want to be their nominee.

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