Local Politics

Rally honors former congressman convicted of corruption

Posted July 12, 2009 10:26 a.m. EDT

— Supporters of a former U.S. Congressman held a rally honoring him in Northampton County Saturday, less than a month after he finished a prison term for federal corruption charges.

The fourth annual "People's Freedom Rally," held in Garysburg, paid tribute to Frank Ballance's commitment to community service.

Supporters of the former Democratic lawmaker from Warrenton have held the rally annually since 2005, when he began serving a 4-year sentence for using a nonprofit to divert taxpayer money to his family. The first rally raised money to help pay his legal bills.

Ballance plead guilty in 2004 but has since maintained his innocence and claimed he was unfairly targeted by federal prosecutors. They threatened to prosecute his 86-year-old mother and upgrade charges against his son to a felony, he said.

"I didn't get a fair trial," Ballance told WRAL in his first interview since his release. He said that politics and race were factors in the case.

Prosecutors said Ballance funneled $2.3 million from the Hyman Foundation – a drug treatment center – including $100,000 for his legal bills, a Lincoln Navigator for his son, computer services his daughter didn't perform and $143,250 for his mother to pay for community programs.

Ballance said his future plans include using his money to create a foundation to help people recently released from prison – and he didn't rule out running for Congress again.

"I know I can run for Congress. I'm not sure if I can run for school board," he said. "You have to run for what you can run for. I'm not picking on anybody. All of our Congressmen are good. I like them all."