Cantrell pays back personal and political charges to public credit card

Watchdog: This exposes a huge problem, may be ethics and/or criminal violations

Dave Cohen, WWL First News early edition
October 26, 2017 - 9:25 am
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New Orleans Mayoral Candidate LaToya Cantrell admits paying back thousands of dollars for personal and political charges she made on her city council credit card.  

It has raised a number of questions about what she did, why she did it and when it happened.

Public records show Cantrell racked up charges on her PUBLIC credit card that were clearly for PERSONAL expenses or for CAMPAIGN costs.  

Just as she began her mayoral campaign she paid back thousands of dollars in charges going back weeks, months and years.

Here is a copy of one check Cantrell wrote to the city for inappropriate charges made on her public credit card...

"Obviously all of that is problematic," Rafael Goyeneche with the watchdog Metro Crime Commission told WWL First News. "It could possibly be ethics violations.  It could possibly be something that prosecutors' offices are consulted."

Goyeneche says beyond the possible ethics and criminal violations for Cantrell, there are bigger issues for the entire council.

"I think it will result in investigations by the Inspector General's office, possibly the ethics review board for the state and possibly prosecutors' offices."

He notes that every member of the New Orleans City Council will now likely have their credit card uses under a microscope.

"This whole thing is going to expand," Goyeneche insisted. "I think a thorough and complete review of how the council utilizes public credit cards."

As for Cantrell, Goyeneche has particular concerns about the timing of her  repayments.

"These expenditures were not reimbursed in a timely manner," he noted.  "Were she not running for mayor, those reimbursements probably would not have been made."

The information for this story was initially provided by operatives for the Desiree Charbonnet Mayoral Campaign.  

The Cantrell Campaign told the New Orleans Advocate that the repayments show an effort to comply with the rules and regulations.

"The councilwoman does a thorough periodic reconciliation to ensure appropriate compliance," campaign spokesman David Winkler-Schmit told the Advocate. 

He added that there were "occasional and inadvertent errors and they were picked up during the reconciliation process and remedied."

Charbonnet spokesman Kevin Stuart told the Advocate, "It's an admission of guilt. And the fact that it's timed around running for office, or qualifying for an election, just enhances that this is about guilt."

Read more from the Advocate here...

Here is a list of charges for which Cantrell reimbursed the city as she began her formal campaign for mayor...

The above charges reflect just one of a series of reimbursements that Cantrell made.  In addition; there are other charges to her public credit card that were not paid back, which had little or no explanation as to their public purpose.

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