New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell faces TWO corruption scandals

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell faces TWO corruption scandals

The controversial mayor of New Orleans is currently embroiled in two more scandals involving her bodyguard and her ‘image consultant’, following the repayment of nearly $29,000 for an excessive first-class flight.

LaToya Cantrell, 50, was elected as the first female mayor of New Orleans in 2018.

In recent months, however, her administration has been plagued by allegations of misuse of funds and resources, prompting the Democratic leader to complain about the scrutiny to the Society of Professional Journalists.

The journalist organization determined that the investigations were “completely proper and journalistically ethical.”

Last month, Cantrell raised eyebrows when she stated that it was unsafe for a black woman to fly economy.

She stated at a press conference, “Anyone who wants to question how I protect myself simply does not comprehend the world in which black women walk.”

Critics observed that despite fearing for her safety on a flight to Paris, she felt safe enough in New Orleans’ French Quarter to walk alone, despite the city having one of the highest murder rates in the United States.

Cantrell repaid the money spent on her first-class flights in the midst of the scandal: $40,000 for a four-day trip to France in June, with her own first-class flight costing nearly $18,000 while her aides traveled in economy.

Cantrell, who earns roughly $188,000 per year, stated, “My travel accommodations are a matter of safety, not luxury.”

Fox 8 News reported on Thursday that Cantrell, whose husband Jason is an attorney, had paid for one of her bodyguards, Officer Jeffrey Vappie, to travel with her in first class.

Vappie joined her team in May 2021 and began accompanying her on trips, beginning with a flight to Scotland.

Vappie and Cantrell flew first class to Los Angeles in September of this year for events that included a dinner with Brad Pitt.

Robert Collins, a political analyst at Dillard University, told Fox 8 that he could not comprehend why Vappie was required to attend the event, given the high level of security in Beverly Hills.

Collins stated, “You do not need protection at an event where there is almost certainly already security.”

Because this is a fundraiser. There are notable individuals present. Therefore, you are aware that there will be police officers and protection. Therefore, that is likely a situation in which you do not need protection.’

He also questioned why Cantrell began flying with her security detail only after the addition of Vappie to the team.

Collins stated, “The timetable doesn’t really make any sense.”

The taxpayers will inquire, ‘If you need protection so badly, why didn’t you have it on your previous trips?’ Why do you not carry protection when travelling alone in the French Quarter? Why do you choose when to have a protection detail and when not to have one?’

Fox 8 News estimates that Cantrell’s choice to carry security on trips had cost taxpayers more than $50,000 since October 2021.

According to Fox 8 News, Vappie spent time in Cantrell’s city-owned apartment in the Upper Pontalba Building, close to the city’s historic French Market.

The station got surveillance camera footage via a Freedom of Information Act request and discovered that Vappie spent extended periods of time inside the facility.

Fox said that of the 45 days captured by the cameras, Vappie was there for 27 of them and spent 112 hours there.

Vappie was observed watering the plants on her balcony while other members of her security detail waited inside.

The city’s inspector general initiated an investigation to determine whether Cantrell used the apartment for personal purposes.

The mayor accused Lee Zurik, who has been covering the topic for Fox 8 News, of ‘violating’ her ‘as a human being’ on Wednesday.

During a news conference, Zurik questioned her, “Mayor Cantrell, you claim to be working around the clock, yet the records indicate that you spend a great deal of time with an officer.

The city has infrastructure and criminality problems. You spent roughly 20 percent of the year with an officer out of town or abroad. Is any of it applicable?’

Therefore, Mr. Zurik, I’m pleased you’re here.

‘Seeing you kind of frightens me since, in my opinion, you have been quite improper. However, none of your claims are supported by the evidence.’

She defended her apartment usage and her job for the city.

“However, my work in the city of New Orleans has been truly unparalleled,” she concluded.

“I can provide evidence of results on the ground.” The ongoing budget hearings testify to the work that my administration and staff have done and continue to do for the city of New Orleans in terms of public safety, housing, and infrastructure, and I could literally go on and on.

Cantrell was also questioned about $175,000 in payments made by her campaign to her “image consultant,” Tanya Haynes, and her company, Jolie Image Consulting, since 2017.

According to statistics obtained by 4WWL, Haynes’ payouts have consistently climbed over time, reaching $6,000 per month in 2021.

Ballin’s Boutique, where she frequently purchased clothing for the mayor, and BC Kitchen and Bath, where Haynes recently purchased a $17,000 kitchen, have been subpoenaed.

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