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Jim Davenport, 54; covered South Carolina politics for AP

Jim Davenport received The Order of the Palmetto from Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina in October.

Mary Ann Chastain/Associated Press

Jim Davenport received The Order of the Palmetto from Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina in October.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Jim Davenport, 54, an Associated Press reporter who worked doggedly to inform people in South Carolina about what their governors, lawmakers, and other powerful officials were ­doing with their tax money and their influence, died Monday, according to his wife, Debra.

Mr. Davenport died after battling cancer for two years.

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Mr. Davenport was a tenacious reporter. He not only was the first reporter to tell the world in 2009 that Governor Mark Sanford had been missing for a couple of days, but he followed the story for years. Mr. Davenport reported that Sanford used taxpayer money to upgradeto business or first-class on flights and used the state plane for personal trips.

During his 13 years with the AP, Mr. Davenport also revealed that the state Commerce Department used a private marketing account to pay for $1,000 chairs, a maid for the director’s Columbia apartment, and alcohol for parties. He was a tireless advocate for the state’s Freedom of Information Act, coordinating the first audit that showed how little public bodies and law enforcement agencies understood about the public’s right to know.

He was at the State House for some of the most dramatic periods of modern South Carolina history and was the wire service’s main reporter on the day in2000 when the Confederate flag was taken down and video gambling was banned.

Before entering journalism, he drove a barge for a dredging operation, worked as a roadie for a band, and made tires at a factory.

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