July 24, 2014

Ethics case officially dropped against state accountant

File photo

Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom (FILE)

The South Carolina Ethics Commission has dropped ethics violation charges against the state’s top accountant.

The Associated Press reports the commission released an official order against Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom two days after voting to dismiss charges that he misused campaign money on a trip to the 2012 Republican National Convention.

Eckstrom traveled to the convention with his girlfriend, who was an alternate delegate from South Carolina. The commission began investigating the Republican and said it found probable cause that Eckstrom committed six violations for using more than $1,600 of his campaign money for gas, food, and a hotel at the GOP convention in Tampa, Florida. Commission executive director Herb Hayden said in December that he believed the money was spent for personal use as the trip was not part of Eckstrom’s duties as comptroller general.

But Eckstrom’s attorney Mitchell Willoughby argued the charges should dismissed, since state law allows for campaign expenses to be used in “a political event.” Willoughby argued a political convention would fall in that category. Commissioners agreed with him in a 4-2 vote on Wednesday.

Eckstrom has not yet filed for reelection. He has until Sunday to file for a fourth term.