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      Final order dismisses Eckstrom ethics charges

      By MEG KINNARDAssociated Press

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Ethics charges have officially been dropped against South Carolina Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom.

      The state Ethics Commission made that finding in an order issued Friday.

      On Wednesday, commissioners voted 4-2 to dismiss charges that Eckstrom improperly used campaign money to accompany his girlfriend to the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. Earlier that day, Eckstrom's attorney argued before the commission that existing state law permitted such expenditures.

      Last year, the commission found probable cause that Eckstrom violated state ethics law, a determination that opened the proceedings to the public. Eckstrom reported spending $1,642 in campaign money for gasoline, food and a hotel stay during the gathering. Eckstrom's girlfriend was an alternate delegate to the convention.

      Eckstrom has until Sunday to file for re-election to a fourth term.

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      Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP

      Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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