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Tea party leader files complaint on Balfour

Photo by Michael Buckelew

Photo by Michael Buckelew

ATLANTA (AP) — A tea party leader filed a new ethics complaint Thursday accusing state Sen. Don Balfour of improperly seeking reimbursements for conducting official business on days when lobbyists reported buying him meals and other perks far from the state Capitol.

The complaint from Debbie Dooley, co-founder of the Atlanta Tea Party, was handed to the Senate Ethics Committee. It adds more details to similar allegations first raised by Atlanta Unfiltered, a government watchdog website, and in an earlier ethics complaint. Lawmakers on the Senate Ethics Committee met this month to discuss the first complaint but have not publicly announced what they plan to do.

Dooley said her group decided to file a new complaint to correct defects in the first complaint, adding she hopes it would prod the committee to move forward.

"We had to provide more detail and prove why it's pertinent to the committee and prove that they have the legal ground to take action on it," she said.

Balfour, the chairman of the powerful Senate Rules Committee, said the Ethics Committee has not told him when it will meet next on his case or asked him for any information about the disputed expenses. He said refiling a complaint "smacks of campaign politics" and that he looked forward to answering questions about his expense claims.

"I already corrected my records before even the first complaint was filed because any errors were inadvertent and involved relatively small amounts over the course of several years," Balfour said in a statement.

The chairman of the Ethics Committee, Sen. John Crosby, R-Tifton, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Dooley's complaint alleges that Balfour improperly claimed state pay and mileage expenses on at least 10 days when lobbyists reported he was out of state or at least far from the state Capitol. For example, Balfour claimed state pay and travel expenses for Aug. 5, 2011, the same day a state lobbyist paid for him to take a tour in New Orleans.

In another instance, the Republican lawmaker claimed daily pay and travel expenses on July 13, 2011. On that same day, a lobbyist for the Georgia Food Industry Association paid for Balfour to stay at a hotel in Destin, Fla., on the Gulf Coast.

Balfour earlier this year repaid the state for nearly $800 in disputed expenses. He said he corrected his expense reports for the days that were previously questioned. On some days, Balfour said he claimed too much in expenses, but on others he failed to collect as much as he should have. In the end, Balfour said the state owed him about $13, which he did not claim.

Comments

R 1 year, 11 months ago

"We had to provide more detail and prove why it's pertinent to the committee and prove that they have the legal ground to take action on it,"

We have to explain their “charge” in office now?? This raises one to a well deserved WTF? (FUBAR)

Try double dipping like this on a travelers expense report in the private sector and most firms will AWARD you with a “no cost one way trip” right to the curb as the prize… AFTER the funds were RETURNED.
Darn, it’s good to get interest free money when others are furloughed…

“He said re-filing a complaint "smacks of campaign politics"
Sir, Of COURSE it does – the expenses were related to POLITICAL actions!

Yes Sen. Ralston we have absolutely NO need for overall ethics reform around here. Your dismissal of the issue indicates we may need a remedial course at GA Tech first, so leaders can at least be introduced to the WORD and its MEANING before its abandoned outright.

Education, it’s a wonderful thing… But until that day arrives, would somebody please mark the exit rabbit hole? This HAS to be a violation of OHSA regulations; the Looking Glass is out of date.

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HonestIngine 1 year, 11 months ago

Once a crook, always a crook.... Time to reelect ALL NEW OFFICIALS, FROM BALFOUR TO RICE TO HOWARD TO WHOEVER IS RUNNING YOUR CITY....

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Karl 1 year, 11 months ago

Remember voters, it was DON BALFOUR who said in an interview several months ago, "I've been doing this for 20 years and I still get re-elected." . Let's make sure not to let that mistake happen again this election year. Since this a strong Republican district, the time to defeat Balfour is during the primary in July. If he makes it through the primary and on to the general election in November he'll beat whatever Democrat he faces. .

Vote for his primary opposition and defeat Balfour in July.

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Coolray 1 year, 11 months ago

Don Balfour will be reelected by a large majority. He's right in saying he's been doing this for twenty years and still getting elected.

We get the politicians we deserve!

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SabrinaWorks247 1 year, 11 months ago

All voters in Don Balfour's district owe Debbie Dooley a big "Thank You". Any elected official who, when confronted with a financial, legal and ethical violation, says, "We’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I still keep getting re-elected”, should NEVER be re-elected.

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R 1 year, 11 months ago

Sen Balfour - We can appreciate your confusion, but you're smarter than this.... so NO pass for you.

Just in from the AJC of all places

Breaking: Republicans will vote on ethics reform in July

But House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, said the ballot question is superfluous and designed to create an obvious response.

YES - to force YOU and others to remember the How and Why you were supposed to have gotten your current position. Remember the implosion that led to your advancement?

"Are they going to ask them if they love their mother?" Ralston told the AJC after addressing the convention. "How can people not vote for that?"
You mean questions formatted / asked just like those used to claim T-SPLOST support? The absolute horror of it all!

Dividing the party? REALLY? it took the Democrats a hundred years to reach the level of hubris you trot out after how many years in the seat?

"In his speech, Ralston took a veiled shot at McKoon and those who would support his efforts."

An attempt to TRY to just evolve into a little honest government - some may not accept the retraining and will have to return to their homes once more - YOU are the weak link, GOOD Bye...

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teelee 1 year, 11 months ago

So being a state senator doesn't have any perks? With all of the problems facing the state this is what you raise Hell about? Somebody bought him some meals? What about the businesses and factories that are moving to Georgia, does he or the others get any credit for that? That doesn't happen on it's own, there is a lot of competition to attract these companies. President Obama can spend millions jetting around on Air Force One going on vacation every few weeks playing golf everyday so I am sure you have made a formal complaint on this. If the man has been doing a good job for twenty years and this is all you have on him, then you have nothing in my opinion. Every time I take my family into a smoke free restaurant I think of Senator Balfour who co sponsored that wonderful bill. And yes, he will be re elected again because he is doing a good job.

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