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Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 12:45pm

Republicans Investigate One Of Their Own

Three Republicans will decide whether to suspend state Senator Don Balfour who’s facing fraud charges.

On Wednesday, Gov. Nathan Deal appointed State House Majority Leader Larry O’Neal, state Senate Majority Leader Ronnie Chance and retired state Supreme Court Chief Justice George Carley.

“We followed the precedent we had established in previous situations of naming in this case the majority leaders of the two houses as we had done with the minority leaders when it was a Democrat in a similar situation,” he said in an interview at the state Capitol.

The panel will suspend Balfour if the charges compromise his ability to serve the public interest.

Ethics reformers applauded Balfour's indictment last month over alleged illegal travel expenses.

A grand jury charged Balfour with 16 counts of making a false certificate, one count of theft and one count of making a false statement.

The Snellville Republican has said he made mistakes on his expense reports. He paid a $5,000 fine last year following a state Senate ethics committee probe.

The charges filed against Balfour marked the third indictment of a Georgia elected official this year. Ethics reformers are saying it shows a sea change in the tolerance for misconduct by elected officials.