The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into whether state Senator Don Balfour committed any crimes when he falsely claimed official expense pay.
But some experts think he’s already been cleared in the court of public opinion.
The GBI is investigating the criminal allegations after receiving a request from Attorney General Sam Olens. The Senate Ethics Committee fined Balfour 5 thousand dollars last month for pocketing reimbursements for in-state work and travel on days when he was not in Georgia. The Snellville Republican has said he incorrectly recorded his in-state traveling expenses. He has not been charged with any crime.
University of Georgia political science professor, Charles Bullock, says in terms of his political future, Balfour’s support from voters was sealed when he won the Republican primary in July for Senate District 9:
“I’m not sure it has any negative consequences for his career. The voters in his district looked at it and accepted his explanation that it was an error on his part rather than an attempt to defraud the state.”
Ethics Committee member Senator Josh McKoon of Columbus says he disagrees with how Balfour’s criminal allegations were handled. So he submitted a report with recommendations to the Attorney General:
“I think once the ethics committee was presented with allegations of criminal conduct by a member of the Senate, it was incumbent on us to refer those matters to an appropriate authority to investigate those.”
Balfour’s attorney, Robert Highsmith did not return calls for comment.