Panel dismisses ethics charges against Eckstrom

By MEG KINNARDAssociated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Ethics allegations accusing South Carolina's top accountant of improperly using campaign money to accompany his girlfriend to the 2012 Republican National Convention have been dropped.

Executive Director Herb Hayden said in an email to The Associated Press the Ethics Commission voted Wednesday to dismiss six charges accusing Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom of using campaign money for personal benefit.

The commission found probable cause last year that the 65-year-old Republican violated state ethics law. Eckstrom reported spending $1,642 in campaign money for gasoline, food and a hotel during the 2012 GOP convention in Florida. Eckstrom's girlfriend was an alternate delegate.

In a hearing Wednesday, Eckstrom's attorney said state law allowed him to use campaign money for travel expenses connected to a political event.

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