Updated 01/14/2010 05:04 PM
Parks Helms resigns as chair of Mecklenburg ABC board
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CHARLOTTE -- Parks Helms, chairman of the Mecklenburg County Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, resigned Thursday afternoon amid accusations that he and other commission members violated gift bans.
Mecklenburg County Commission chairman Jennifer Roberts received Helms' resignation letter just before 3 p.m. She called his decision to step down a chance for the local ABC board to have a fresh start and better understand state ethics requirements.
Helms, appointed to the ABC board last year, was under fire for more than a month after he and other board employees were accused of violating gift bans following a lavish dinner, complete with a $12,000 tab, in November.
Helms and the other board members later paid back their share but that didn't stop calls for him to resign. In his resignation letter, helms said the media frenzy has so damaged his image that he felt compelled to resign from not only the ABC board but other local boards as well.
"This incident, coming at a time when the state is strengthening and clarifying ethics rules, has made it a major distraction,” Roberts said. “We will now be able to go forward with a clean slate and I think that will be better for everybody."
County commissioners are in control of deciding the next ABC board chairman. They will discuss the state of the board at their meeting next week.
The state ABC Commission released a statement Thursday afternoon saying not all the blame can be placed on Helms because “he received inappropriate direction from those long in place in the Mecklenburg system who have operated within a culture of entitlement.”