Sen. McKoon fires back at colleague over expense probe

tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 16, 2014 

Joe Paull/jpaull@ledger-enquirer.comSen. Josh McKoon took fellow state Sen. Don Balfour to task Thursday after Balfour called an investigation McKoon wanted 'political gamesmanship.'

Georgia state Sen. Josh McKoon of Columbus took to the Senate well Thursday to shoot back at Sen. Don Balfour, who after being acquitted last year of filing false expense reports labeled the investigation and resulting prosecution "political gamesmanship."

Balfour had faced allegations he illegally claimed mileage and expense reimbursements from the state.

In his remarks Monday, Balfour called the prosecution "a waste of state resources and money," and said "there should be a line between political gamesmanship and trying to destroy someone's life."

Balfour paid a $5,000 fine ordered by the Senate Ethics Committee and claimed his improper expense filings were simply mistakes.

McKoon, a member of the ethics committee, helped push for the attorney general and Georgia Bureau of Investigation to probe Balfour's conduct, which first came to light in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution review of legislators' expenses.

McKoon, like Balfour a Republican, told the Senate Thursday that he felt no need to press the issue further, but would not let Balfour's claim of "gamesmanship" go unchallenged.

"As to the suggestion that what occurred in this case was the result of 'political gamesmanship,' nothing could be further from the truth, and to pretend otherwise brings discredit upon this body and its members," he said.

"The Senate Ethics Committee, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the attorney general all discharged their duty as required by Georgia law…. With respect to this matter the truth, which has never been disputed -- perhaps an uncomfortable truth but an inescapable truth -- is that the rules of the Senate were broken and Georgia law was ignored," he added.

Balfour, of Snellville, represents Senate District 9.

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