Georgia – Republican Senator Don Balfour received a $5,000 fine today from the Senate Ethics Committee for receiving pay for in-state work when records show the state senator was out of state.
The Senate Ethics Committee met in closed-door session for much of the day, preventing Georgians from learning many of the details regarding the case. The secrecy included taping copies of the Atlanta Journal Constitution to the committee room windows in order to shield the media from learning any details.
Willfully falsifying legislative expense reports can result in up to 5 years in jail. Instead, it appears that Senator Balfour will receive only a $5,000 fine.
In addition to charging the taxpayers for travel reimbursement between the Capitol and his Snellville home while out of state, he has spent nearly $30k in campaign funds on a condominium near the Capitol, claiming that the rental is an “ordinary and necessary” campaign expense as the law allows.
Despite this nearby condo, Senator Balfour continued to file travel reimbursements for his trips between the Capitol and his Snellville home- about 60 miles away- for every day that he conducted official business.
In the past six years, Senator Balfour has been the recipient of over $22,000 in free tickets from lobbyists.
State legislators receive a base salary of $17,341. Yet, Senator Balfour received well over $100,000 per year in publicly disclosed compensation, lobbyists’ gifts and other rewards.