Sen. Balfour wants $156,787 in legal fees

A jury acquitted state Sen. Don Balfour in December of charges he tried to steal from the state. Now it's time for the state to pay, to the tune of $156,787 in legal fees.

Balfour’s attorney made the reimbursement request Monday in a letter to the state Department of Administrative Services, citing work that spanned a year-and-a-half criminal investigation of the Snellville Republican and a three-day trial that ended late last year.

It’s the first time attorney Ken Hodges has tallied the numbers, which spanned two separate legal firms, countless aides and the work of a recent law school graduate who helped on the side.

Now, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens — whose office prosecuted and lost the case — is tasked with deciding whether the amount is “reasonable,” according to state law.

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 — charges that could have brought him up to 10 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.

Olens faces no deadline to make his decision.

Balfour, whose 21-year tenure makes him the Senate’s longest-serving Republican, has already announced he will run for re-election.