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ABC chief: Parks Helms reflects culture of entitlement

The state ABC commission is cracking down on ethics rules that govern local boards. The state board issued new guidelines banning local liquor boards from accepting food, drink or anything else of value from the industry they oversee, and reminding them they're subject to the same expense rules as other government workers. That's after the liquor company Diageo treated Mecklenburg's ABC board to a $12,000 dinner. Mecklenburg Chairman Parks Helms said he thought the board was paying for the meal. State ABC chairman Jonathan Williams says that reflects a culture of entitlement. "Let's be clear: Every dollar that comes into the ABC system in this state is a dollar that belongs to the public. The public's money is not what is left over at the end. It is public the moment it is handed over the counter," Williams said Wednesday. Helms and other board employees paid back their $9,000 portion of the dinner after it became public. The state board is reviewing whether the dinner broke any laws. Two New Hanover ABC board members are also under investigation for using public money for first-class travel.