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      Ethics charges dismissed against Gov. Haley

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH, AP) -- Gov. Nikki Haley has been cleared of charges she violated ethics laws while a member of the South Carolina House.

      The House Ethics Committee voted 5-1 Wednesday to dismiss all charges against the governor, following an investigation that lasted more than a month.

      The panel found probable cause to look into the allegations, but determined there was not enough evidence to conclude Haley violated ethics rules when she represented Lexington County in the House.

      Immediately after the panel's decision, Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey called the allegations against the governor "made-up nonsense claims."

      Wednesday afternoon. Governor Haley responsded to the decision herserlf while touring a Florence County Honda plant. She praised the ethics panel's move to dismiss the claims against her.

      "We have watched naysayers bring up ethics charges after ethics charges and bring up false claims and everything else. There's no truth to it," said Haley.

      Representative Laurie Funderburk was the only dissenting vote in the ethics panel decision. The Kershaw County Democrat argued a hearing is necessary to further explore the issue.

      "We would've had the opportunity to have more information on the subject than was available to us," said Funderburk. "Having this decision made without a hearing is almost like sweeping it under the rug."

      The complaint that sparked the panel to look in to the matter came from a lawsuit by long-time Republican activist and former Board of Economic Advisors Chairman John Rainey, accusing Governor Haley of illegally lobbying for two employers while she was a state representative.

      A circuit court judge dismissed the lawsuit in March , saying such issues should be handled by either state ethics officials or a legislative panel.

      The House Ethics Committee took up the issue, looking into claims tied to Haley's work with engineering firm Wilbur Smith and the Lexington Medical Center while she was a member of the House.

      Committee members noted Haley worked for the hospital's charitable foundation, rather than as a consultant for the hospital.

      Critics of the panel's decision say the governor got off on technicality.

      "Once again we saw that all of those claims were unfounded, the allegations were unfounded," said Haley.

      (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)