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Thursday, September 6, 2012 - 10:25am

Expense Oversight Weak For Lawmakers

Georgia lawmakers face little scrutiny when they claim upward of $1 million annually in expense pay under a system that relies heavily on their honesty.

Those flaws were evident in a complaint against state Sen. Don Balfour, a Snellville Republican, that has since been settled. He recently agreed to pay $5,000 after acknowledging he claimed pay and expense reimbursements on 18 days when he incorrectly reported in-state travel or was outside Georgia altogether — sometimes being entertained by lobbyists.

The Associated Press reviewed nearly 1,500 lobbyist spending reports and hundreds of pages of legislative expense reports. Balfour's errors were not common among other lawmakers. But an absence of oversight allowed for discrepancies and at least one incorrect payment, largely due to sloppy record keeping.

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