Courtroom reaction on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013, to the not guilty verdict in the Sen. Don Balfour case.

Balfour reinstated to GOP Caucus, committee leadership

Members of the Senate’s GOP Caucus have reinstated state Sen. Don Balfour, R-Snellville, after a jury found him not guilty on all counts after the prosecution alleged he deliberately stole money from the state.

The chamber’s Republican leaders announced the move late Thursday. They kicked him out last month after a panel found him unfit for office and Gov. Nathan Deal suspended him. The suspension was lifted after Thursday’s verdict.

Balfour was also restored to committee leadership positions, including the chairmanship of the Senate Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee.

Once one of the most powerful politicians in Georgia, Balfour faced 18 felony counts related to expense reports he filed with the General Assembly over a five-year period. The former chairman of the Senate Rules Committee was accused of intentionally taking reimbursement for expenses to which he was not entitled. Balfour has admitted he made mistakes, but he has maintained they were accidental.

The jury began deliberations late Wednesday and worked little more than an hour Thursday before reaching its decision.

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