Josh McKoon: Don Balfour ethics decision ‘undermines’ public confidence

Here’s the lede on the Don Balfour story by my AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin:

The Senate Ethics Committee voted Thursday to fine Sen. Don Balfour $5,000 and the Snellville Republican will also repay about $350 to the state.

Balfour, chairman of the Rules Committee, was accused of billing the state for mileage while out of town on lobbyist-funded trips, and for failing to create a subcommittee to audit all senators’ reimbursement vouchers.

The decision isn’t sitting well with everyone. Here’s the statement that state Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, the advocate for the $100 cap on gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers, posted on his Facebook page:

“Today the Senate Ethics Committee entered into a settlement with Sen. Don Balfour regarding the multiple ethics complaints which had been filed regarding the alleged abuse of per diem policy to include the filing of false reports and the failure to convene an Audit Subcommittee of the Senate Rules Committee in order to comply with Georgia law.

“The Ethics Committee found that Sen. Balfour did fail to follow the per diem policy, filed false reports and failed in his responsibility to convene an Audit Subcommittee as required by Georgia law.

“While I strongly agree with the Committee’s determination of guilt, I disagree with the penalty, which will not deter future serious breaches of Georgia law and is not as strong as penalties imposed when similar offenses have been committed in the past.

“I will be preparing a minority report in the days to come which I will forward on to appropriate parties for consideration which will address these matters in much greater detail. Suffice it to say that the action taken today, in my opinion, further undermines public confidence in state government and reinforces the anything goes culture at the Capitol.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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50 comments Add your comment

Tom

August 16th, 2012
6:09 pm

“We’ve been doing it this way for 20 years, and I still keep getting re-elected.” – Sen Balfour

Just Sayin'

August 16th, 2012
6:15 pm

“…oh, and good luck with any of YOUR bills that make it to MY committee, Mr. McKoon.”

Brosephus™

August 16th, 2012
6:16 pm

I don’t know about past penalties, but this one is just as bad as the $300 fine that the unregistered lobbyist had to pay for Ralston’s $17k European Vacation. I see no need for those who voted for them to feign anger now. Learn to live with the choices you make.

Bernie Madoff

August 16th, 2012
6:27 pm

Don Balfour was born in Indonesia. He’s a muslim and a communist. Balfour is also a well known terrorist. He’s also a jungle hunny. Yet, he keeps getting reelected by large margins. Need I say more?

Balfour for President!

tim

August 16th, 2012
6:36 pm

Balfour is a baboon

Bob Loblaw

August 16th, 2012
6:41 pm

The Committee has had a bunch of meetings on this and they’ve fined the guy. The holdout being a lone wolf Republican who has been around for one year and gone all-in with a bunch of whack-jobs that want to use taxpayer funds on political campaigns. Jim: you’ve been around politics forever. Wouldn’t the Democrats have just pounced on this to score political points in an election year if there was really something to it? Could you see George Hooks letting Balfour off given his respect for the Senate AND given that he’s retiring?

In the end, the dirty laundry has been fully aired. Everyone knows the facts of the case. The accused has been fined and ordered to pay restitution. If its not enough for some, then go have some fun with Paul Howard and Sam Olens. And they will point you to the Georgia Constitution where it is poignantly clear that each Chamber of a Legislative body has the authority to determine the qualifications of and seat its own Members. It gets back to the voters of the 9th district. If they want to send Balfour to the State Senate, then the Senate has the power to seat him. If the Senate doesn’t or they sanction him in a way that impairs his ability to serve, they come close to attempting to undo what the voters of the 9th did in sending him back to represent them.

tsktsk

August 16th, 2012
6:46 pm

what joke this State lawmakers have become.. . they’re all in it for their own gains without the fear of repraisal from their voters that keep voting them back in..

Thomas

August 16th, 2012
7:29 pm

Senator Balfour is a “Good Old Boy.” ETHICS in the State of Georgia is a JOKE! Behind closed doors a decision is rendered, what a slap in the face of the voting public.

yuzeyurbrane

August 16th, 2012
7:32 pm

McKoon will have his office moved to a windowless subbasement in a bldg. at least a mile away.

double

August 16th, 2012
7:33 pm

Examples of good ethics should be set at the top.Governor,speaker,duh already a failure.Never mind.

Bernie Madoff

August 16th, 2012
7:45 pm

@ Bob Loblaw

I rob a bank and steal millions. The AJC fully discloses that I did so and everyone reads the story. My peers scorn and rebuke me endlessly. Should that be the end of the story? My dirty laundry has been aired and I’ve been “shamed”.

Kris

August 16th, 2012
7:53 pm

@ yuzeyurbrane “McKoon will have his office moved to a windowless subbasement in a bldg. at least a mile away.” I agree…..

If Sheriff Buford Pusser was in charge his office would be in a men’s room in the basement, that way nothing would leak out… Just sayin.

@ Double. amen a double dirty deal at that. No offense.

Bob Loblaw

August 16th, 2012
7:56 pm

@ Bernie:

Don’t like it? Change the Constitution. His district knew the whole deal inside and out since one of the TEA party “leaders” was running against him and got practically no support.

Take it to the court if you’d like. Hire Bob Loblaw! Just because someone saw you do it doesn’t mean you should be held accountable?

zeke

August 16th, 2012
7:56 pm

the beltway exec would fit right in the georgia general assembly

td

August 16th, 2012
8:36 pm

Bob Loblaw is absolutely correct. This was aired fully, he was fined and is paying back the money. I personally would have voted against him if I lived in his district but it is the voters choice and responsibility to determine if they still want him to represent them in the state Senate.

zeke

August 16th, 2012
9:21 pm

good grief charlie brown

Cutty

August 16th, 2012
10:37 pm

The only way Georgians will vote out someone with an R behind their name is if they’re found with a dead woman or a naked boy.

hiram

August 17th, 2012
12:22 am

Bob Jones University
Rules of Conduct

Grounds for immediate dismissal include stealing, immorality (including sexual relations between unmarried students), possession of hard-core pornography, use of alcohol or drugs, and participating in a public demonstration for a cause the university opposes.Similar “moral failures” are grounds for terminating the employment of faculty and staff.

R

August 17th, 2012
2:31 am

The voters put him back in the Senate, because the charges weren’t proved at the time of the vote
( INSERT EYE ROLL HERE) BUT I don’t believe they VOTED for his committee assignments…

The party of conservatives needs to correct certain oversights under the DOME themselves now. (Pretend its practice for the new state transportation tax you’ll put forth)

A 5K fine and being then be required to set up the audit committee he was ALREADY tasked to do is simply disingenuous.

How many in the private sector get a pass for things like this or is TERMINATION the usual course?
Gee, if he HAD set up the committee like he was required originally, he’d caught his OWN “errors” – how RICH is that?

ALL this, so he could effectively float himself an about an 800 dollar zero interest loan for about a year…

“Pound of Flesh” already taken? Just HOW weaselly are you GOLD DOMERS anyway?

We should base our reactions on how LOUD the dead Democratic party screams?
Are you freakin’ kidding the masses or JUST really that far out of touch?

We thought we elected Repubs to clean it up some ( INSERT LAUGHTER HERE, breathe CONTINUE LAUGHING)

NOT foul the well faster and dirtier in a shorter period of time than the folks you replaced…
( DRY EYES NOW)

I know since so MANY of you were DEMS until recently, its hard to keep up with the new playbook and all, l but do give a LITTLE effort…

Attack Dog

August 17th, 2012
3:34 am

Dixiecrats have proven that they can’t handle to truth, but they believe in propoganda.

rawmilkdrinker

August 17th, 2012
4:05 am

I want the hide of the jackhammer politicians that mandated these new silly ass 2 inch long gas can spouts that take three hands to operate while you are pour your gas onto your feet instead of into the tank!

sheepdawg

August 17th, 2012
6:33 am

balfour is a crook, and the travesty is that the sheeple in his district will most likely re elect him

Debbie Dooley

August 17th, 2012
6:47 am

It ain’t over yet.
I filed the initial complaint and was not even notified they were having a meeting.
The meeting was conducted in secret behind closed doors and a back room deal was cut.
The Senate is a good ole boy network that covers up for their own.
Some Senators were tone deaf to the message voters sent July 31st.
Sen. Balfour lied when he said he did not know until February of 2012 he was required to file an audit committee. He was quoted in the AJC on April 13, 2010 that he acted alone as a sub committee over seeing expense reports. The evidence about this was in the supplemental complaint I filed but the Senators chose to ignore the proof.
The whole investigation thing was just smoke and mirrors. They never intended to do anything.
The committee members deserved to be primaried. All of our focus this year was on defeating T-SPLOST. We showed what we could do with little money and a lot of determination and focus. Our focus in 2014 will be defeating some incumbents in the Legislature.

Stay tuned to Monday…

Debbie Dooley

August 17th, 2012
6:51 am

And oh, Bob, the Democrats did release a statement making an issue out of this. I am in Sen. Balfour’s district and he won’t get my vote..

Debbie Dooley

August 17th, 2012
7:09 am

Ronnie Raygun

August 17th, 2012
7:35 am

So Balfour thinks it’s okay to STEAL money from taxpayers? Fine, hell. Any other public employee would be fired and brought up on criminal charges.

Where’s the Ga AG when you need him? Oh yeah, they’re in the same party, so NOTHING will be done about it.This is exactly why one party rule (and political parties in general) does nothing but breed corruption.

Atlanta Allen

August 17th, 2012
7:54 am

A state employee would be fired for falsifying travel reimbursement documents.

DeKalb Wonkette

August 17th, 2012
7:58 am

Apparently lobbyists’ spending is bad but sponsorships? Not so much! An excerpt from a recent meeting notice -

“STATE EDUCATION FINANCE STUDY COMMISSION SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITY
As you know on August 28th are the meetings with sub committee #1,
sub committee #2 and then the joint meeting for sub #1 and sub #2.
There will be three meetings that day:
If you would like to sponsor lunch for the commission members and staff,
please let me know as soon as you can. My suggestion would be to have
two groups go in together and split the cost.There will be approximately 25 attendees plus the number of folks from your group. .

honested

August 17th, 2012
8:05 am

So what’s up with the voters in balfour’s district?
This action was no secret and they still voted for him.
The teawhatevers spoke out against him and it appeared to make absolutely no difference whatsoever (if you add up both the repug opponents and the Democrat opponent’s vote totals, balfour still wins).
But why?
Is that section of the North Metro completely clueless or have they been ‘led’ by criminals for so long they are more comfortable knowing a crook is in charge?

Debbie Dooley

August 17th, 2012
8:12 am

Sen. Balfour’s opponents were not well known and did not have money to send out 7 mailpieces like Sen. Balfour to let the public know what he had done. Everyone was also focused on defeating T-SPLOST. That will not be the case in 2014.

honested

August 17th, 2012
8:20 am

But the teawhatevers spoke out against him.
They have been ballyhooed as speaking for some broad majority of Georgians.
Apparently that is so much hooey.

honested

August 17th, 2012
8:22 am

And, the T-SPLOST was defeated because voters had sense enough not to enter into a long-term, cost-plus contract with the paving companies.
The efforts of the parasites at the CofC supporting and the handful of groups opposing had very little to do with the outcome.

R

August 17th, 2012
8:23 am

After Paul Ryan was announced as Mitt Romney’s running mate, it took less than 24 hours for The New York Times to define Congressman Paul Ryan as an “extremist”. In a lead editorial the paper bannered this subheadline: “With no plan of his own, Mr. Romney can’t distance himself from Mr. Ryan’s extremist vision.”

That “vision” would be federal spending cuts and entitlement reform.

While Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ryan sent two spending bills to the full House, both of which passed but were killed in the Senate – which is controlled by the Democrats. The bills cut federal programs across the board. Mr. Ryan is also a fan of reforming Medicare and Social Security, which are going bankrupt.

In the bubble that is the liberal media, trimming government spending and making entitlements more fiscally viable ARE extreme positions. That’s somewhat ironic because President Obama’s strategy of massive government spending and borrowing is perhaps the most extreme economic plan in the nation’s history. Never before has the USA run up such an enormous debt and had so little to show for it.

So, defining Congressman Ryan as extreme is an interesting scare tactic. And one that might be extended in the days to come. Here are some other positions that the committed left media considers extreme:

R

August 17th, 2012
8:24 am

If you believe traditional marriage should be kept as the exclusive standard, you are not only extreme, you are a homophobe.

- If you believe that all Americans should pay less in taxes, you are greedy and an anti-poor extremist.

- If you believe the Second Amendment gives Americans the right to buy and possess guns you are promoting violence in an extreme way.

- If you believe the government has a duty to combat overseas terrorists without giving them Constitutional protections, you are an extreme anti-human rights individual.

- If you believe that abortion is the taking of a human life – you are an anti-woman extremist.

- If you support securing the nation’s borders and regulating immigration, you are anti-Hispanic.

The list goes on and on.

By labeling someone as extreme, you can dismiss what he or she says. That’s the strategy being used against Congressman Ryan. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd writes: “Ryan should stop being so lovable. People who intend to hurt other people should wipe the smile off their faces.”

So in Ms. Dowd’s estimation, Paul Ryan is in politics to harm the folks. He gets up every day and plots the personal damage he might be able to achieve.

This is now where we are in American politics. If Ryan’s reform vision will harm Americans, let’s hear some specifics. So far, under President Obama, we have a sluggish economy, high employment, and record debt. Sounds harmful to me.

But then again, I’m an extremist.

honested

August 17th, 2012
8:29 am

r
Nice try.
I’m still very, very glad that ryan is a close to real power that he will ever get.
Yes, he is certainly an extremist, a very dangerous one.

Tom

August 17th, 2012
9:03 am

And pre-1967……

If you believe traditional marriage should be kept as the exclusive standard, you are not only extreme, you are a racist.

hiram

August 17th, 2012
9:48 am

Back to Brother Balfour – how many people noticed that Brother Balfour’s accounting degree is from Bob Jones University?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4X8iQXQIQ_Y

Bernie Madoff

August 17th, 2012
9:50 am

Ralph Abernathy went to jail for the same offense. Long Don Balfour got a “tap” on the wrist, a wink, wink, nod, nod from the committee. I heard they actually apologized to him for the all the trouble they caused him over the last few months.

And…the Governor wonders why voters don’t trust politicians.

honested

August 17th, 2012
9:56 am

hiram,

Thanks.
On another note for Sen. balfour and his unexplainable victory, doesn’t it make sense that the State’s largest consumer of the Koch Brother’s products would want a reliable Senator who knows how to ‘get along’ to remain in office?

Neutral Observer

August 17th, 2012
10:16 am

Does it not bother anyone that these actions by Balfour are felony violations of the criminal laws that Balfour presides over as the gate-keeper of the Senate ? This double dipping is clearly a Violation of his Oath of Office, Felony False Statements and Theft by Taking/Deception. I don’t care whether you are a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Communist, these are crimes and should be prosecuted by either the appropriate DA, depending on venue, or the Attorney General, if the DA recuses. And the legislature , Governor and Lt. Governor do not understand why the law abiding, tax paying public has so little regard for, and lack of trust of, it’s state government officials ? Can’t some of you media folks confront the powers that be about this and ask if anyone is going to pursue it criminally ? If the State will not because they are afraid of him, then maybe the Feds will look at it. This is just disgusting. No-one should be above the law.

zeke

August 17th, 2012
11:28 am

maybe jim can do some research but i think they threw the book at roscoe dean for doing things similar many moons ago

zeke

August 17th, 2012
11:30 am

the beltline guy should run for a spot in the georgia general assembly

The Rule of Law?

August 17th, 2012
11:38 am

Section 16-10-20 Falsification in government matters
A person who knowingly and willfully falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact; makes a false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or makes or uses any false writing or document, knowing the same to contain any false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry, in any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of state government or of the government of any county, city, or other political subdivision of this state shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000.00 or by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years, or both.

oldfart

August 17th, 2012
11:53 am

What is the purpose of his in-town condo if he is going home to Snellville every night? Of course since he is going home to Snellville even on out-of-state trips I guess I can understand. May as well put that Accounting degree to work creatively.

Bob Loblaw

August 17th, 2012
1:10 pm

@ Bernie Madoff:

Then trot down to Pryor Street with Debbie, file a lawsuit, and see how it turns out?

Church of the painful Truth

August 17th, 2012
1:38 pm

Fired three State Employees for falsifying travel statements during my 30 year career.One went as far as criminal charges being filed and being investigated by the GBI.Yes,the good ole boy system works well for a certain few.Everyone take a long look at what is happening in our State Capital.State Government day to day operations are falling apart and Nero is playing his tune.

honested

August 17th, 2012
1:52 pm

Having discussed matters of constituent importance with the Governor back when he had his old job, I bet the TV response will be something along the lines of ….’well Senator balfour is a very powerful man’.

Debbie Dooley

August 17th, 2012
4:00 pm

Bob, I will not filing a lawsuit. I am asking a criminal investigation be opened..

Just a taxpayer

August 17th, 2012
5:14 pm

As a business owner, when one of my employees falsifies documentation they are fired. Don Balfour should be fired.

Bob Loblaw

August 17th, 2012
5:17 pm

Where’s the promised lawsuit against the T-SPLOST’s constitutionality? You promised!

You are advocating publicly for judicial branch action on the matter. You are looking to have a suit filed. Stop the doubletalk!