State News

Chairman of Mecklenburg ABC board resigns post

Posted January 14, 2010

— The chairman of the Mecklenburg County Alcoholic Beverage Control board resigned Thursday amid scrutiny of a $9,000 holiday dinner provided to the board by an international liquor company.

The Charlotte Observer reported that Mecklenburg County ABC Board Chairman Parks Helms announced his resignation in a letter sent to county commissioners Chairwoman Jennifer Roberts and County Manager Harry Jones.

Alcohol Law Enforcement agents last week issued a report alleging that local ABC board officials in Charlotte, international distiller Diageo, and the company's North Carolina marketing director violated laws on giving and accepting items of value. Helms and top board officers reimbursed Diageo.

ALE agents are also investigating whether a nearly $300 lunch for Mecklenburg ABC board officials at Charlotte's Ritz Carlton hotel paid by other liquor companies violated state law.

The announcement comes a day after the ABC called for tougher ethics standards by liquor distributors and local ABC boards in the wake of recent reports of lavish salaries and extravagant parties.

The commission immediately banned liquor manufacturers and distributors from providing anything of value, from cash to a meal, to employees of the state-run alcohol sales system, including local ABC boards.

Any company that violates the gift ban could have its state permit suspended or revoked, preventing it from selling alcohol in North Carolina.

The commission also urged local ABC boards to adopt travel policies that mirror the rules used by their county governments and to adopt a gift ban Gov. Beverly Perdue issued last fall for members of state-appointed boards.

Local ABC boards are independent entities, so the state commission can't require them to follow the recommendations. But state officials made it clear that they want the embarrassing stories of excess to stop.

"There is no way the public should be expected to foot the bill for select employees and family members to have a party of seemingly unlimited price and extravagance," state commission chairman Jon Williams said. "To think otherwise suggests a culture of entitlement at work that worries me."

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  • superman Jan 15, 2010

    The ABC Board is under the control of the CC. Perpaps they are corrupt too. They are aware of the salaries paid to the ABC employees.

  • Riddickfield Jan 15, 2010

    Time to get rid of this corrupt monopoly

  • protestthis Jan 15, 2010

    Making rules like this only provides for this kind of thing to still happen but under the table and not reported.. What do they really think they are going to accomplish?

  • Mommyoftwo Jan 15, 2010

    Jon Williams is a good man...he did good for Crime Control and Public Safety and he is missed there. I think he will do a wonderful job at ABC.

    I just hope all these egos get deflated a little and they once again start realizing they aren't ENTITLED to anything!

  • rich son Jan 15, 2010

    Guilty dogs bark but in this case they're running

  • 6079 SMITH W Jan 15, 2010

    ........Like rats leaving a sinking ship.