AG confirms investigation into Cantrell credit card use

Cantrell spending questions

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The state attorney general confirms his office is investigating New Orleans Mayor-elect Latoya Cantrell over her use of a city-issued credit card.

The AG is looking into three cards Cantrell's office used while she served on the City Council.

"It means a criminal investigation is underway. they are trying to get the information on the credit cards," Fox 8 Legal Analyst Joe Raspanti said. "This is the documentation you would need to go forward with a prosecution."

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

"If nothing else, what you did was give yourself an illegal loan from the City of New Orleans because you used the card and didn't immediately reimburse it. If you waited, that's like a line of credit you had through the City of New Orleans, which I don't think is permitted. All of these things are going to be looked at by the Attorney General," Raspanti said.

Cantrell has also been questioned about purchases she made with the credit card and did not pay back, including purchases at Rouse's for candy. One purchase made with the city-issued credit card included feminine products.

There was also another purchase made in 2016 near the holidays for 71 whole turkeys and 77 Grade A hens that cost the city nearly $1,600.

Cantrell has argued those purchases were for outreach in the community.

In 2014, records filed with the state show Cantrell paid for 100 turkeys as a part of "Thanksgiving Turkey Project" with her campaign funds.

"I think the things [investigators] would be looking at would be malfeasance in office, theft...or illegal use of a credit card. All of those things could fall under what I understand the facts could be in this case," Raspanti said.

A spokesperson for Cantrell says possible subpoenas have not yet been served to the mayor-elect at this time.

The spokesman also says the office is gathering information before taking any next steps.

The AG's office could not comment further on its investigation into Cantrell's spending, saying the probe is ongoing.

The Louisiana legislative auditor is also looking into the use of credit cards by all of the current New Orleans council members.

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