Don Balfour Wants You To Invest In Him

Well, most likely not you. Just the folks that would see the value of investing “$2,500, $1,000, $500 or $250” in the Rules Chairman of the Georgia Senate.  Balfour’s fundraising appeal makes it very clear that he is the Rules Chairman, as it the entirety of the plea’s second sentence.  And the email, included below, makes it clear that the amounts are “investment levels”.

This is precisely why the Committee On Assignments, led by Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams and Majority Leader Chip Rogers must call a meeting of the COA now, to address the issue of Balfour as Rules Chairman.

Balfour’s June 30th Disclosure shows he has attracted over $1.1 Million in total investments, with over $795K cash on hand.  He faces token Democratic opposition after handily defeating two Republican challengers in the July 31 primary.  These investments help provide Balfour a nice 6 figure benefits package to aid his $17,000 salary for his “public service”.

Balfour was just issued an unprecedented fine from his peers for filing false expense reports, as well as refusing to form an audit sub-committee that would have reviewed his records as required by Georgia law.  Despite being made aware of this lapse quite publicly by the AJC in 2010 and again throughout the 2012 session of the General Assembly, Balfour’s letter to fellow Senators claimed ignorance of the law.  His attorney says the matter is settled.

Two other Georgia Senators have been tried for similar crimes.  Roscoe Dean’s trial ended in a hung jury, but he still lost Chairmanship of the Rules Committee in the process.  Ralph David Abernathy III served jail time.  Balfour was tapped on the wrist for 5% of what he draws in compensation for his public service, and is using his position as Rules Chair to request “investments” the very next week.

Senators, each of you who remain silent on this issue are guilty by association and your inaction.  It is time each Senator be asked to go on record as to whether they support Balfour continuing with his tainted Chairmanship.  This is no time for ambiguity.

Balfour’s email follows, with emphasis added:

From:  Ariail Smith <[email protected]>

Date: Fri, 24 Aug 2012 14:54:29 -0400

Subject: I need your help to win!


For the past consecutive 20 years, I have been privileged to serve the state of Georgia in the State Senate. I am chairman of the Rules Committee.  Since being elected by the people of the ninth district, I have had the tremendous opportunity and responsibility to initiate, push for, and take action on many of the important issues that affect all of the citizens of this great state.  I have been honored to meet with so many outstanding Georgians and listen to their concerns and suggestions.   My pledge is to continue to advance the priorities of our citizens for the betterment of all.

This year I have an opponent in the general election, and I need your financial help to win my race so that I can continue to work for the people.  Please join me in my re-election campaign at one of the investment levels: $2,500, $1,000, $500 or $250.  Any amount that you can pledge will bring me one step closer to success.

Along with a wonderful staff, I am here to serve.  Please do not hesitate to contact me at any time.  If you would like to get further involved in my campaign efforts, please visit my website at or contact Ariail Smith at 770.435.5586.

Thank you,

Don Balfour


Senator Don Balfour

District 9


  1. Bob Loblaw says:

    Hilarious. In the same post, you highlight how Sen. Balfour was given an “unprecedented” fine in showing how horrible he is and then you proceed to belittle the “unprecedented” fine. Which is it?

    Beam me up.

    • Calypso says:

      Bob, it is obvious you are unaware of the definition of ‘unprecedented’. It means the act has no precedence, or to put it in your vernacular, it has not been done before.

      It does not mean appropriate, excessive, fitting, or even correct. While Balfour’s fine may be unprecedented, it most certainly not any of those other things. It is merely a slap on the proverbial wrist; window-dressing so the committee can say ‘look what we did to punish one of our own’ and to allow Balfour to feign contrition and his lesson learned.

      Just because something may be legal does not mean everyone is to condone the action as right. But I fear that train of thought is lost on someone like you.

  2. Bob Loblaw says:

    You’re beginning to resemble a noisy gong and/or a clanging cymbal. You’ve asked the Senate to speak? WTH, then, is an Ethics Committee investigation that followed Senate Rules resulting in this “unprecedented” fine that you decided in the bottom of your post wasn’t so tough after all?

    You continue to call on the Senate to do something. They did. You just don’t like what they did. His voters returned him to the Senate in a three-way primary with over 60%.

    The guy sends out a fundraising request like every other politician and you think its newsworthy? Just keep banging your gong and smashing your cymbals. Find a dead horse, too. Maybe there’s one on Craigslist in the farm and garden section. You can beat it, too.

    • Charlie says:

      Yes, they did something. It’s important for them to know that what they need to do isn’t over.

      As for your opinion of me, I’m quite good with that.

      It was Balfour, after all, who called for Abernathy to be expelled from the Senate. I’m not calling for that. If the people of Gwinnett want him, at least until he’s prosecuted, that’s fine.

      But those same Senators who just fined him need to understand he’s broken the publics trust and theirs. He cannot remain in the Senate’s most powerful position.

    • Will Durant says:

      The closed door whitewash was applied after the primary vote and with one exception they cowered to an arrogance that has now surpassed Tom Murphy’s. In a way I DO like what they did. It proves beyond a doubt that true ethics reform will require an entity outside of self-appointed stooges.

      • Bob Loblaw says:

        Mr. Durant,

        For you and others thinking that an “Ethics” bill should contain language creating an “entity outside” the General Assembly, meet the Georgia Constitution. Specifically, I point you to Article III, Section IV, Paragraphs IIV and IIV, which read:

        Paragraph VII. Election and returns; disorderly conduct. Each house shall be the judge of the election, returns, and qualifications of its members and shall have power to punish them for disorderly behavior or misconduct by censure, fine, imprisonment, or expulsion; but no member shall be expelled except by a vote of two-thirds of the members of the house to which such member belongs.
        Paragraph VIII. Contempts, how punished. Each house may punish by imprisonment, not extending beyond the session, any person not a member who shall be guilty of a contempt by any disorderly behavior in its presence or who shall rescue or attempt to rescue any person arrested by order of either house.

        Each Chamber SHALL be the judge and have the power to punish. It is an impermissible shirking of Constitutional duty to “outsource” this function.

        That’ll be $400.

        • Will Durant says:

          If it takes a constitutional amendment given the abundant history of a body not able to police itself then so be it. Given the current mood of the voters and the clear mandate given with the $100 cap poll what do you think its passage if presented to the people would be? Of course I have no illusions on its passage by the legislature to actually become an amendment.

          So yes, please keep Sen. Balfour where he is and sitting on his mostly unneeded, (for legitimate use anyway), war chest. There is more involved here than the few hundreds a layman was able to dig out, like why did it even require a layman to dig it out? If the status quo is retained then there will be more grassroots efforts than the Tea Party you seem to revile so much. Perhaps even a movement to make Georgia a Prop State like California. Wouldn’t that be a fine kettle of fish for you and your boys.

          • Bob Loblaw says:

            After T-SPLOST, you can bet the money you should set aside for my legal fees that you’re not going to see GA turn into a Cali-style referendum state.

            By the way, if you see any illegitimate use of Balfour’s campaign funds, GA is fully transparent and all you have to do is go to the Commission’s office or website and file a complaint. Or you can just continue to baselessly complain here.

            • Will Durant says:

              Legitimate as in its principled definition as opposed to its legal one. Or if I hazard the difference, ethical vs legal use of campaign funds. For example it is perfectly legal for Sen. Balfour to pay $29k+ annually for a year-round condo on Peachtree from his campaign funds AND claim a per diem for lodging and meals of $173 per day from the state for 66% of the business days in 2011. But to this taxpayer that doesn’t make it right or ethical. Why is a million dollar campaign fund needed for a $17k per year part-time position? Sure it is legal but logically what is its purpose?

              Transparency laws are the only reason the discrepancy was discovered when he claimed travel from Snellville on each and every out of session committee day. With 83 of those out of session days being charged to a rules committee that doesn’t meet when the legislature is not in session I would think he had the time to setup the oversight subcommittee required by law. Too bad the Ethics Committee couldn’t have indulged us with a little transparency on his hearing or their debate. Instead they layered the windows with the AJC in much the same way I use it to line the bird cage, to keep the crap inside.

              • Bob Loblaw says:

                +1 on the usefulness of the AJC 🙂

                Because a campaign owns property that is owned in furtherance of maintaining office, the reimbursement for the per diem is a transaction from the State to the Senator for the cost of lodging. Every Member gets the same. Should the Member whose campaign owns the place of lodging be reimbursed for such lodging, it becomes “a dollar” that could be used to fund the ownership. We are talking about separate, statutorially structured entities.

                Whether or not is is ethical is a personal opinion.

                The Ethics Committee followed its rules. As I’ve said before, if there was really something “there” the Dems would have jumped on this and ridden Balfour out of office. It would have been a huge win for the Dems. Ethics Committees generally rise above the desire to score points in these matters and they treat them seriously. Allowing a crowd to boo and ooh and ahhh every time a Member had a comment or having media record the deliberations and questions asked would influence the process so much that politics would trump factfinding.

                • Jackster says:

                  I tell you what Bob – I get the feeling you don’t think Balfour is toxic to his peers, but I gotta be honest, I’m revolted. I see there’s proof about his arrogance, his ethics violations, and from what I can tell, questionable behavior with what I can only describe as a racket on campaign funds for luxuries.

                  With that, I’ve called on my Senator to call for his replacement on the CoA – I’m willing to bet that Balfour will continue to be an embarassment, and come 2014, if my senator doesn’t take a stance now, she will be carrying his water for re-election. (and why not – he’s got enough cash for two)

                  Link to the call to replace Balfour for your LoLz:

    • rrrrr says:

      The voters returned him to the Senate as just a Senator.

      The best course of action for the Senator leadership would be to heed that call and MAKE him just a senator, with NO other responsibilities…

      It might be best for him in the long run, to help him keep those expense reports straight.
      Baby steps…

    • Stefan says:

      Surviving a three-way (primary) isn’t nearly as impressive as you seem to think it is. I challenge you to find an incumbent who can’t win his primary with 1,000,000 in the bank.

  3. DeKalb Wonkette says:

    Just illustrates my earlier point on different threads: a focus on “lobbyist expenditures” as the be-all-end-all of ethics is a smoke screen.

  4. Bob Loblaw says:

    First, it is far from the Senate’s most powerful position. I’ve seen you go from “arguably the most powerful position” to outright “most powerful.” You’re better than this. You’re starting to sound like Debbie. I know you don’t have a need for Cliff’s notes as she does. But since she’ll probably get PP after she wakes up and checks in with TMZ, I’ll get this out of the way:

    The President Pro Tem, who you keep calling on to convene the Committee on Assignments, is obviously more powerful than any committee chair that he can convene a meeting to replace. Stop the doubletalk! Second to him, would be the Majority Leader. Behind him would be the caucus-wide elected Caucus Chair.

    The Rules Committee and its decision making about what bills make it to the floor is not a one-person process. Each of the above and the LG all have input as to what bills the Chairman is going to be considering for the Rules Calendar.

    He may have lost your trust, but if you don’t live in the district, Georgia decided in about 1787 that you’re trust in him is irrelevant. Later, the doctrine of “one person, one vote” further established this tenet.

    Maybe Debbie should have just run? Maybe she’ll back up her doubletalk one day. Where’s that lawsuit on the constitutionality of T-SPLOST again?

    • Charlie says:

      We’re devolving into full revisionism here. I’ve made the point over and over why Balfour is (arguably – that’s what we’re doing here, isn’t it?) the most powerful Senator. Williams has the title of President Pro Tem, but has lost complete control of the caucus. Will The Winner? He got most of his caucus that just had primaries served with ethics charges because of his mastery of his “independent” expenditure group. The Senate is bitterly divided, and neither Williams nor Rogers has the stick to control anyone.

      Balfour, by contrast, has largely stayed out of the infighting, but still controls the path of legislation to the floor.

      Argue titles all day long, but everyone who has ever set foot in the capitol knows which Senator you better not ever piss off if you want your bill to pass, and it ain’t Williams or Rogers.

  5. Bob Loblaw says:

    If Tommie tells Balfour to put a bill on and the LG has no opinion, as Calvin Smyre used to say, “its on.”

    • Charlie says:

      Sure thing. We all believe that. Really, we do.

      Now, instead of attacking me and bringing Debbie into the mix for added misdirection, why don’t you put some of all this energy you feel you need to focus on this subject to telling us why Balfour, who broke state law by filing false expense reports, ignored state law by refusing to form and maintain an audit sub-committee that would have reviewed such reports, then lied to his own caucus in his letter claiming he wasn’t aware of said requirement despite being asked about it by Aaron Sheinin in 2010, Why should this guy retain such as position of trust and power such as the Rules Chairman?

  6. Bob Loblaw says:

    You ought to believe it because its just the way it works. Ask Tommie how much trouble he has getting his bills on the floor or those for House members he is looking to help.

    I’m not trying to misdirect anything. Its just that she’s going to bring her own doubletalk into the equation soon and by then, the Judge will probably call my client’s case and I’ll have to put down the ipad and won’t have time to respond.

    I really don’t care what Chairmanship he holds. I don’t serve in the Senate. The Senate is a form of representative government and the voters send folks to the Capitol and its up to them to figure out who sits where. I don’t think he really “refused” to form the audit committee, he just failed to. There’s a big difference there. In 20 years there was zero clamour from anyone for him to form it. If this is a failure worthy of punitive action, it honestly should be brought upon the Senate as an institution. Nobody called anybody out on it since the 80’s. If he’d of skimmed thousands of dollars over the years and it was a substantive amount of money, I think more folks would be as ralled up as the lone Senator who seems to care so much.

    The AJC part is hearsay and I’m not addressing it. C’mon. The AJC’s reporters should be registered to lobby as much as they write and clearly advocate for legislation on lobbyist expenditures. Aaron is part of that mix.

    In the law, we have a term called “curing the default”. In criminal law, its called “restitution”. Either way, Balfour has complied with this theory. And again, we’re talking about a few hundred bucks that were PAID BACK.

    You want his head on a platter. Since the TEA party is to impotent/chickensh!+ to mount a campaign beyond the doubletalk on PP, that didn’t work. So now, you want his Chairmanship. For a guy who admitted he was wrong, got an “unprecendented” fine and got re-elected overwhelmingly.

    Clanging cymbal, my man. Keep banging it.

    • Charlie says:

      You’re a lawyer. The law says “shall” form the committee. Try again.

      Now instead of attacking Debbie, you’re attacking the AJC. Regardless anyone’s opinion of the AJC, the fact is Balfour was asked about it and responded in a 2010 story by Aaron Gould Sheinin. He later claimed he didn’t know. He’s a liar. It’s now documented.

      Now you’re kind enough to bring out that Balfour has paid restitution, part of criminal law. That’s because this was a crime. Senate peers are not the dispensory for disposing of crimes. That’s why a prosecution needs to continue.

      “So now you want his chairmanship” – That’s nothing new. It’s what I’ve been calling for for about a year I believe.

      Back to the Senate being a representative body. Damn right. And it’s about time they remembe who they really represent. It’s not the lobbyists. It’s not the ones that have to pick an “investment level” from a rules chair to get their legislation passed. And it isn’t sychphantic hangers on who create sock puppets on Peach Pundit when their gravy train of the status quo is threatened.

      Don Balfour needs to go because his peers need to realize his actions are now theirs. They are criminal, even if “restitution” years after being pointed out has been made.

    • Ken says:


      The Georgia Senate has an obligation to protect its reputation. I would argue that it is of utmost importance because we only have a representative government as long as individuals have the reasonable expectation of being represented. Don Balfour’s offers of an investment opportunity undermine that reasonable expectation.

      Stripping Balfour of his chairmanship is a reasonable response to such blatant appeals for money. It’s not an offer of quid pro quo – just quid pro raised expectations.

      And, by the way, the lowest hurdle “legality” does not affect the expectations of the higher bars of “ethics” and “morality”. The state senate could well act upon those higher grounds – not that I expect it, but I certainly hope for it.

      Frankly, it’s wrong. I know it, Charlie knows it, you know it and Don Balfour might remember it if no fine is involved.

      • Bob Loblaw says:

        There are much more blatant appeals for money out there. Balfour has a fortune anyway. If there’s one guy down there that doesn’t give a darn whether or not you contributed, its him. He’ll go all New Jersey on you if you even think about bringing money up. Go ahead and contribute the max and watch what happens.

        I don’t care what the words chosen in an appeal for campaign donations say. Why is “investment” a bad word?

        And again, if you folks want the Senate seat in the 9th, then put together a campaign and go get it. All your questions of ethics, morality and all the same belong to those voters.

        • Jackster says:

          So if Balfour has a fortune, then his appeal for fundraising is disingenuous, since he doesn’t really need the extra cash to mount a successful defense of his seat?

          Oh, and investment is a bad word for a politician because it implies there’s a “return on” an investment.

          I personally think he’s looking to raise $$ now, simply as an opportunity to milk your base. That and to take a pulse of how toxic he is among prior donors. It’s a common practice among donation based businesses to judge opinion; think of it as polling.

        • Ken says:


          The “others have done worse” argument doesn’t fly. You know that; why try to use it?

          I would like our state legislature to be better than it is, not sink lower by accepting a lesser standard of responsibility and ethical action. Pulling back on the reins (and wanna-be reigns) of Balfour and others like him is a good step. BTW, feel free to name the more egregious violators whose shady contribution schemes dwarf Senator Balfour’s. I’d like to know who they are because I will then have a bone to pick with them, as well.

          The voters in Balfour’s district do not choose committee heads. You also know that so, again, do the rest of us. Which is why Charlie’s piece is directed to the folks in the state legislature who might make a difference.

  7. Bob Loblaw says:

    You’re second paragraph has me LOLing…He is a liar. Find me a politician that hasn’t ever told a lie and I’ll come out of my sock!

    See my sentence, above, for your state Constitution’s position on your “Senate peers” authority. Roscoe Dean didn’t hire Bob Loblaw!

    • rrrrr says:

      Please reconsider coming out of your sock or at least get a Pedi first…

      Otherwise, we may be appalled by the amount of fungus revealed.

  8. Ken says:

    There is something simply so pretentious, yet so utterly fake about Senator Balfour’s offer to invest in the future – perhaps plastic would be a better word. There’s such a great future in Don Balfour. I mean what could possibly go wrong?

    It’s a surreal mixture of whispered shady deal and quietly enthusiastic used car salesmanship and Gold Dome politics. The future, investments, plastics; the situation reminds me of a certain movie. Dissolve.

    Watch: Link:

    Or read the script:
    The pool is eerily lit. There are FOUR PEOPLE standing and TALKING, drinks in their hands, at the back of the yard.

    Ben – I just want to say one word to you – just one word –

    Yes, sir.

    Are you listening?

    Yes I am.


    They look at each other for a moment.

    Exactly how do you mean?

    There is a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?

    Yes, I will.

    Okay. Enough said. That’s a deal.

    From Buck Henry’s great script for The Graduate.

  9. mfw626 says:

    Thanks PP for standing up and stating the plain facts, that this just ain’t right. I just wish more people cared. I’ll go back to watching my Frank Capra movies now.

    • gopgal says:

      You’re a genius. By your reasoning we should compare ourselves to those who do worse (not better) than us.

      • sunkawakan says:

        I’m not trying to lessen Balfour’s misdeeds. And yes, by comparison, there are those in the GA Senate who’ve done worse, just as there are those who are far above those at the bottom. You don’t have to get snippy or nasty.

    • Ken says:

      Please feel free to name names. It won’t make ANYTHING Senator Balfour did any more acceptable, but it will be nice to see that list.

      • Bob Loblaw says:

        You really do want to sit on your rear and ask other people to gossip so you can learn something. Twice in one thread. Hilarious.

        • Ken says:

          Gossip, Bob?

          Gossip is all you had to offer? I should have known.

          YOU made the accusations based on gossip and now want others to research your arcane mumblings used solely to deflect from the actual debate. That won’t happen.

          You brought it up but couldn’t deliver. Now sunkawakan does the same.

          It’s just sad, Bob, not hilarious. You have no facts so you argue that some current misty state legislators did some unstated deed which was much worse at some unspecified time. Yet we are supposed to simply take your word for these things. No and especially not when you yourself refer to them as gossip.

          As to the particular individuals, you have no specifics. As to the particular deeds, you have no specifics. As to the particular dates and times, you have no specifics. As to the particular point you attempted to make, you have no merit. Of course you want someone else to seek them out. Perhaps they are in Valhalla or Shambala or in the lost Kingdom of Prester John. Or perhaps you simply made them up because you have no actual points.

  10. Jackster says:

    Bob –

    Curing a default would relate to basically paying restitution – and is only really when a debt is defaulted on and there is an outstanding balance.

    I think the real point here is that there should be a punitive action as well as restitution (Yes I know they’re different, and I’m implying his act was criminal, but since the senate is not a court, we don’t really have a term for it besides “fine”).

    So… I suppose my question to you would be do you think there should be a punitive action against Balfour? You don’t seem to have indicated one prior to that, but admittedly, you were trying to best another.

    Charlie is saying the punitive damage is loss of his chairmanship; others are implying that it should be monetary by calling the restitution “A slap on the wrist”.

    • Bob Loblaw says:

      $5000 is punative. It is punishment. The restitution was paying the money that was given to him by the incorrect expense reports back to the state.

      Also, a party can cure a default by doing or not doing something. Default is not exclusive to money.

      I believe the above was punitive action taken by the Senate via the Ethics Committee, exercising its authority according to the Constitution.

      The actions that you describe as “punitive,” such as Charlie’s call for his Chairmanship, don’t, in my personal opinion, qualify as punitive. These are political decisions vested with the Senate every two years when committee chairmanships are determined. A punitive measure has been levied by the Committee. Anything else that may be done to the Chairman in terms of his position just fall into that vast category entitled “politics”.

      • Jackster says:

        I just don’t see $5k being very punitive for this individual; perhaps 5% of his campaign holdings.

        So, from a political accountability point of view, would you consider the membership of the COA directly accountable for committee chairmanships? As in, if Balfour stays as the Rules chair, then the COA would be directly accountable for that choice?

        I’m really trying to get a feel for “how things work”, so that way I can give them a fair shake.

  11. SabrinaWorks247 says:

    Hi Bob: You provide perfect examples of why voters have no respect for most elected officials.

    “You ought to believe it because its just the way it works”.
    “You’re second paragraph has me LOLing…He is a liar. Find me a politician that hasn’t ever told a lie and I’ll come out of my sock!”

    • Bob Loblaw says:

      Sabrina, please don’t take that first sentence out of context. It was made to inject the reality that the Senate’s elected leader with the most authority is able to get the legislation he or she wants out of the Rules Committee and onto the floor. The Senate should not vote for a Pro Tem whose legislation they don’t want to vote on because it comes with the territory.

      The second quote I agree with you. I would image that consumers likely feel the same about certain types of salespeople.

  12. Calypso says:

    For the record, Bob Loblaw is, of course, wrong (nothing unusual there). Everyone else is right with the exception of sunkawaken, who is rather borderline.

    Carry on.

    • sunkawakan says:

      Glad to hear I made it to the border. I hear there is at least one Georgia legislator who would shoot to kill if I made it across.

  13. Three Jack says:

    If it smells like sh*t, it is probably sh*t….don’t need a lawyer to sample it then give long winded explanations about the different forms of sh*t.

  14. SchedulesUSA says:

    Chip Rogers and the COA will not remove Balfour they would not want to set the precedent that unethical behavior is grounds for removal from office with caucus elections (where they will probably be removed from power) rapidly approaching.

    • Bob Loblaw says:

      Thoughtful insight…with the razor thin margins in a caucus election likely to be seen, why strip anyone of anything. You might need their vote.

  15. debbie0040 says:

    Bob, you just keep attacking me. It is clear you have a real difficut time handling defeat. Isn’t this 0-3 for you? You really have a difficult dealing with a strong, opiniated woman don’t you? Especially, when this woman out-maneuvers you each step of the way in regard to different issues.. Bob, I post under my real name, while you hide your identity like a roach hiding in darkness. Are you that big a coward or are you protecting your boss or whoever is playing you like a puppet on the string?

    We reached out to tea parties in the regions that t-splost passed and they have not expressed an intereste in pursuing a law suit. There is no need to file a legal challenge in the region I live in, because it failed miserably despite an almost 10 million dollar war chest. It did not even pass Fulton or DeKalb. Must have been quite embarassing for you.

    It is ok, Bob, You can stop being a coward and come out of the darkness where you are hiding and cowering…

Comments are closed.