Cantrell responds to ministers calling for her to drop out of race

Cantrell responds to ministers calling for her to drop out of race

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A news conference held on the steps of city hall Thursday called for a mayoral candidate to drop out of the race.

The Inter-Denominational Ministerial Alliance called for Latoya Cantrell to drop out of the race amidst controversy surrounding her credit card purchases with taxpayer money.

Cantrell responded to the the group with the following statement:

"It's come to my attention that eight ministers from the inter-denominational ministerial alliance, which endorsed my opponent, held a press conference to criticize my candidacy. I appreciate their concerns, but I want to be clear: I will continue running a campaign focused on unifying our people, erasing artificial divisions and addressing the issues that matter to voters. When I am Mayor, I will listen to and collaborate with this group – and others – because we all have the same goal: a safer and better New Orleans."

Thousands of pages of public documents reveal that New Orleans City Council members bought dinners, televisions, gift cards and even Facebook ads with taxpayer money since 2013. 

The digging into council members' spending was ignited after it was discovered Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell purchased thousands of dollars worth of items such as candy, gift cards and even feminine products with her city-issued credit card.

Public records show Councilwoman Cantrell reimbursed the city nearly $4,400 days before qualifying to run for mayor. In some cases, it took Cantrell years to pay the city back.

According to the legislative auditor, best practices for credit cards should include itemized receipts and the business purpose clearly documented, including the names of persons participating. The legislative auditor also warns of possible violations when using city-issued credit cards, including purchasing flowers or gifts for employees or others and using public funds for parties.

The runoff between Cantrell and her opponent Desiree Charbonnet is set for November 18.