Sen. Don Balfour, Georgia’s most corrupt legislator

State Sen. Don Balfour, the senate’s Rules Chairman, is on the hot seat for his multiple ethical lapses during his career. Better Georgia launched a new television ad, airing in his senate district through election day, to call attention to Georgia’s most corrupt legislator:

Sunlight is the best disinfectant, so we’re making sure voters know about Sen. Balfour’s ethical lapses.

Sen. Balfour continues to enjoy great power in the Senate as the unethical behavior continues and he refuses to come clean with the public. His role as chairman of Senate Rules casts a dark cloud of corruption over every bill that moves through his committee.

In March, questions surrounding Sen. Balfour were raised when a complaint was filed alleging Sen. Balfour violated his oath of office and Georgia law by submitting false requests for mileage reimbursements.

In April, Sen. Balfour returned $800 to the state for two incidents in 2011 when Sen. Balfour claimed a mileage reimbursement for days he was out-of-town at lobbyist-funded political junkets.

In June, the Senate Ethics Committee found “substantial cause” to believe violations had occurred and began an investigation into the matter.

The ethics violations have continued to pile up.

By August the Senate Ethics Committee had reviewed all materials related to the complaint, interviewed witnesses and determined that “Sen. Balfour failed to keep accurate records of his travel and consequently submitted inaccurate vouchers to the Legislative Fiscal Office.”

However, the committee delivered what amounted to a slap on the wrist and Sen. Balfour was fined $5,000 and ordered to repay another $800 to the state.

In September the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, after receiving a request from Attorney General Sam Olens, opened an investigation into Sen. Balfour’s criminal wrongdoing.

To date, no other sitting legislator has received a larger fine from their Ethics Committee or been investigated by the GBI for criminal wrongdoing, which has caused many to claim Sen. Balfour is “Georgia’s most corrupt legislator”.

According to recent articles in the Georgia press, the television ad highlights the following facts:

  • “…pocketing reimbursements for in-state work and travel on days when he was not in Georgia”  Source: GPB 9/12/12
  • “Sen. Balfour agrees to fine, … $5,000” Source: AJC 8/17/12
  • “Balfour piles up freebies” Source: AJC 5/27/12
  • “$22,000” Source: AJC 5/27/12
  • “Sen. Don Balfour… returned nearly $800… after questions raised” Source: AJC 4/5/12

Better Georgia plans to keep a spotlight on Sen. Balfour’s wrongdoing until he is removed from his chairmanship of the Senate Rules Committee.

Corruption is far too common under Georgia’s Gold Dome. Sen. Balfour may be the worst offender, but he is by no means the only one.  Elected officials who violate their oath of office and the public’s trust should all consider themselves on notice.

The ad will air in Sen. Balfour’s district throughout the duration of the campaign.  The ad can be found here: