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As activist files complaint against state senator, party bigs weigh ethics resolution at convention

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As Georgia Republican officials and activists huddle this weekend in Columbus, a movement is underway by some tea party leaders to adopt a resolution demanding legislative action to tighten the state’s ethics laws.

“Republicans in Georgia are sick and tired of a few bad apples giving the rest of us a bad name,” Justin Tomczak, a Cobb County delegate to the convention, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution Friday. “Unfortunately, many of our party leaders have remained silent, leaving it up to the tea party, the media and conservative blogs to continue to put the spotlight on an isolated few who have lost their way.”

“It is time for us to again show that Republicans are the party of strong ethics and clean government.”

The transparency effort crystalized this week in activist quarters of the party, pressed in large measure by a state tea party leader who filed an ethics complaint against Senate Rules Committee chief Don Balfour. It accused the senator of billing the state for mileage while on lobbyist-subsidized junkets:

Debbie Dooley, state coordinator of the Georgia Tea Party Patriots, filed the complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee. Dooley said Balfour, R-Snellville, violated Senate rules and state law and called on GOP leaders to strip him of his chairmanship. …

It is at least the second complaint filed against Balfour following media investigations into his reimbursement reports. Dooley said, “Every day we have had activists in our mailboxes livid over the fact that he is getting away with this.”

The complaint alleges that on eight occasions dating to 2009 Balfour claimed mileage reimbursements for his travel to and from his Snellville home, even though state records show he was out of the state on trips paid for by corporate lobbyists. It also questions “numerous additional mileage reimbursements” to Snellville even though he rents a condo in Atlanta. The complaint states that Balfour “presumably would spend at least some nights at that residence.”

Read Dooley’s complaint in full here.

- James Richardson