Deal appoints panel in Balfour case

ATLANTA — Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday appointed a panel to determine whether state Sen. Don Balfour, R-Snellville, should be suspended from office.

Under Deal’s executive order, the panel must issue a written report with its determination by Nov. 15. The panel’s ruling is final.

Deal appointed state House Majority Leader Larry O’Neal, R-Bonaire; state Senate Majority Leader Ronnie Chance, R-Tyrone; and retired state Supreme Court Chief Justice George Carley.

Georgia’s constitution calls for the panel to determine if the indictment relates to and adversely affects the administration of the elected office, according to Deal’s office. If it determines it does, the panel would suspend Balfour from the General Assembly.

The senator would continue to receive his legislative pay and benefits in the meantime, but he would not be able to perform any official functions of his office.

Balfour was indicted last month on 16 counts of making a false certificate, one count of theft by taking and one count of false statement and writing. According to Attorney General Sam Olens, Balfour submitted Georgia General Assembly expense vouchers for reimbursement of mileage and per diem expenses he was not entitled to receive.

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