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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- The House Ethics Committee is considering whether Spartanburg Rep. Harold Mitchell violated ethics laws.

The panel began meeting Wednesday to determine whether to proceed with an investigation or throw the case out. Mitchell took the rare step of agreeing to make his case public. Proceedings otherwise remain secret unless probable cause is found.

The Democrat says he has nothing to hide.

Prosecutors filed the ethics complaint last summer while reviewing Mitchell's criminal case. Mitchell turned himself in on tax evasion charges in September 2011. He pleaded guilty last November to misdemeanor charges of not filing his 2007 and 2008 returns on time.

He is accused of misusing campaign funds.

His attorney Bruce Byrholdt says Mitchell is guilty only of sloppy accounting and helping a family displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

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