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GBI investigates state Sen. Balfour's expenses

ATLANTA (AP) — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has started looking into whether state Sen. Don Balfour committed any crimes when he illegally claimed official expense pay, agency spokesman John Bankhead said Tuesday.

Bankhead said GBI agents started the inquiry after getting a request from Attorney General Sam Olens, a Republican, on Aug. 22. Balfour, a Republican from Snellville, has not been charged with any criminal offenses.

The Senate Ethics Committee fined Balfour $5,000 last month for illegally accepting pay for in-state work and travel on days when he was outside Georgia. He also incorrectly recorded some of his in-state travels. The punishment came after two people filed complaints with the committee over the discrepancies in Balfour's expense reports.

Balfour previously told reporters that he made "mistakes" and agreed to reimburse the state nearly $1,200 in addition to paying the fine. His attorney, Robert Highsmith, said Tuesday that Balfour never committed any crimes.

"These were inadvertent mistakes," Highsmith said. "The appropriate resolution and closure was a fine. I have every confidence that the GBI will conclude the same thing."

Under state law, any legislator who knowingly and willingly falsifies expense paperwork can be fined $1,000 and imprisoned for up to five years.

Highsmith said he believed Olens started the probe because of a request from state Sen. Joshua McKoon, R-Columbus, a member of the Senate Ethics Committee. McKoon voted against the agreement with Balfour, saying he wanted to impose stiffer penalties. McKoon said Tuesday that opening an investigation moves the state toward a complete examination of the case.

"I do not share Mr. Highsmith's view that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is subject to any political pressure, least of all from me," McKoon said.

Balfour is among the senior Republicans in the Senate. He chairs the Senate Rules Committee, a powerful group that decides which bills get a vote on the Senate floor.

Comments

rco1847 1 year, 7 months ago

sounds like he's a Gwinnett county Republican, right?

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Coolray 1 year, 7 months ago

He's been doing this same thing for twenty years and he keeps getting reelected.

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Karl 1 year, 7 months ago

Man, I hope they nail his sorry a$$.

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Karl 1 year, 7 months ago

And doesn't the first sentence of this article sort of wrap up the whole investigation by itself? It says the GBI is investigating whether Balfour committed a crime when he illegally claimed expense pay.

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Mack711 1 year, 7 months ago

In most business you would be fired for falsifing an expense account, however in this case you get re-elected. No wonder we have problems in Gwinnett. Kennerly, Bannister and Lassister just to name a few, there are probably more to come.

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wrighton 1 year, 7 months ago

You would be fired for falsifying expense accounts in most corporations. Government is big business and very few actually get caught. There is big problem with political culture in Gwinnett County. I hope that Mike Beaudreau is next for charging taxpayers for Christmas Parties, Funerals, ball games, etc. I believe term limits would prevent most of these problems.

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teelee 1 year, 7 months ago

If you think Gwinnett Republicans are so bad move to Clayton County and let me know how the Democrats work for you. Twenty plus years on the job and this is all they got on him? Expense account crap? Wow, next your going to tell us your voting for Barack Obama since he is a Democrat. He only made 5 trillion tax dollars disappear by giving to his buddies in the green industries like Solyndra, they walked away with a nice 500 million. Where is that investigation? I am sure Georgia received some of the rip off stimulus money. Tell the GBI to track some of that money down. The Senator paid his fine and he was re-elected move on and get over it.

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Coolray 1 year, 7 months ago

Teelee's new slogan: Our crooks are a better pedigree than yours! or, Obama and Rev. Wright made him do it!

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kevin 1 year, 7 months ago

Is Snellville trying to compete with Gwinnett County for the most crooked politicians? We are slowing catching up with the lawlessness in Chicago politics.

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