A Fulton County judge declined Monday to throw out the indictments against state Sen. Don Balfour, R-Snellville, clearing a path for his trial to start Dec. 16.
Balfour’s lawyers argued at a hearing Friday that state lawmakers who break the law while performing their official duties cannot be prosecuted. In Balfour’s case, the Georgia Constitution gives the power to discipline senators exclusively to the Senate, they said, making the state’s case against the senator moot.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Henry Newkirk did not comment on his ruling to deny their motion to quash the indictments, although his ruling was one sentence long.
Balfour, a certified public accountant, is charged with 18 counts of filing false expense claims and theft after a grand jury indicted him in September on allegations that he charged the state for expenses on days he did not have those expenses.
He and his attorneys have repeatedly said he made mistakes on his expense reports but did nothing wrong intentionally.
Gov. Nathan Deal suspended Balfour last month pending the trial after a three-member panel found him unfit for office. The same day, Balfour’s Senate colleagues kicked him out of the chamber’s Republican caucus. They also stripped him of every remaining leadership position he had in the chamber.
Last year, after problems with Balfour’s expense reports became public, the Senate stripped him of his position as chairman of the Rules Committee. The Senate Ethics Committee also rebuked Balfour last year, fined him $5,000 and ordered him to repay the state about $350.