North Carolina's top liquor regulator resigned Tuesday after sending an e-mail that reportedly showed a watermelon patch outside an altered photo of the White House.
Gov. Beverly Perdue demanded and received the resignation of Alcoholic Beverage Commission Chairman Douglas A. Fox after the e-mail mocking the first black U.S. president was shown to Perdue's staff.
"I have accepted Doug Fox's letter of resignation. E-mails and images of this nature are offensive and unacceptable," Perdue said in a statement.
In his resignation letter, Fox offered to stay on until his successor was ready, but Perdue spokesman David Kochman said the resignation was immediate.
Fox was paid $110,000 last year in the job he held since being appointed by Gov. Mike Easley in 2004. The commission handles liquor law violation cases, sets prices and runs the state warehouse from which all ABC stores buy their liquor. The stores at which spirits are sold are run by local ABC boards.
The News & Observer and Charlotte Observer reported it acquired the e-mail sent from Fox's law firm to Bill Hester, a lobbyist for Southern Wine & Spirits, a major liquor distributor. The e-mail was sent on Nov. 14, 10 days after Barack Obama was elected president.
The e-mail, which had been forwarded by others several times before reaching Fox, showed the image of the White House, the watermelon patch on the South Lawn, and the phrase "There goes the neighborhood..." printed above the photo, the newspapers said. The e-mail contained no other text, but the subject line stated: "how true."
Hester declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press. Message left Tuesday evening at Fox's Wilmington law office and a listed residential number for Doug Fox were not returned.
For the last year, Fox also has been president of the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association, which represents the 19 states with government-run liquor sales.