My friend and colleague Travis Bowden, Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Georgia, has written an op-ed about the office of lieutenant governor and the role it plays:
At last month’s 7th Congressional District Convention, a resolution was proposed that would demote the Lieutenant Governor of Georgia by stripping him of the title of President of the Senate. I respectfully disagree with this plan and the ideas behind it.
If the Lieutenant Governor were to be demoted in such a way, then the constitution would be needlessly violated. The resolution brought up at the convention says that the Lieutenant Governor is a member of Georgia’s Executive Branch, and therefore he should not be able to govern any part of Georgia’s Legislative Branch, in this case, the Georgia State Senate.
On day 39 of this legislative session, CBS Atlanta reporter Wendy Saltzman tried to ask Don Balfour some of her branded “tough questions”. He remained in an anteroom and eventually left the Capitol through a rear door.
This was fresh on the heels of Balfour ending his run for the 7th Congressional District and announcing he was leaving politics altogether, only to eventually end up qualifying for re-election. He now faces a primary challenge from Republicans Travis Bowden and Joe Anderson, as well as a Democratic challenge from Rashid Malik.
At stake is more than a Senate seat, as Balfour is chairman of the powerful Rules Committee, giving him essentially a veto power over any bill by deciding what bills are ultimately allowed to move to the floor for a vote of the full Senate.
Saltzman has pieced together a paper trail that suggests there is some form of relationship between Balfour and a high profile lobbyist, Marcia Rubensohn, who represents the Georgia Municipal Association.
Rubensohn has traveled on official business to Israel with Balfour and on a press release was identified as part of the Georgia Senate. There’s also documentation that Rubensohn, as a lobbyist, paid over $600 for a hotel room in Savannah for Balfour in 2008.
Balfour explained that she was needed on the trip to Israel because she was Jewish. He can’t seem to remember why she would have paid for his hotel room in Savannah.
You can read Saltzman’s report here (with video link), the Georgia Municipal Association’s response here, and Balfour’s response that he has cracked down on illegal immigration here.
I’ll post this quote from Saltzman here and ask the first half be read with added emphasis:
So far there is no evidence any laws were broken although we have discovered GMA failed to disclose another trip they paid for Balfour and three other Georgia state representatives to attend last year.