Mayor Cantrell repays city nearly $29,000 in travel upgrade expenses

Published: Oct. 28, 2022 at 4:24 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Mayor LaToya Cantrell has repaid the City of New Orleans for nearly $29,000 in luxury travel upgrade expenses for which she was deemed personally responsible, CAO Gilbert Montano’s office said Friday (Oct. 28).

The office provided a scanned image of a check issued by Cantrell to the city earlier Friday, in the amount of $28,856.99. The city also provided a screenshot showing the check had been deposited into a city account.

Controversy over the mayor’s luxury travel has lingered for months, since a Fox 8 investigation showed Cantrell and three of her top aides spent more than $40,000 on a four-day trip in June to France, where Cantrell traveled to sign a sister-city agreement.

The mayor’s first-class flight cost almost $18,000.

About a week after she returned from France, Cantrell traveled to Switzerland for another signing of a “sister city” agreement. Her flight there cost just over $9,800, and she spent more than $11,000 for the six days in Ascona, Switzerland.

Despite a city policy requiring city employees to pay for their own travel upgrades if flying in first class or business class, Cantrell for months stubbornly refused to repay city coffers. The mayor insisted the travel upgrades were justified by her concerns for her own personal safety, and later for her health and well-being.

“All expenses incurred doing business on behalf of the City of New Orleans will not be reimbursed to the City of New Orleans,” Cantrell said Sept. 6. “I do my job and I will continue to do it with distinction and integrity every step of the way.”

Some City Council members suggested they would move to dock Cantrell’s pay next year to recover the travel expenses.

“I hope we don’t have to take it that far,” City Council president Helena Moreno said last month. “(I hope) she will see these opinions coming out and do the right thing, but we will be forced to take the necessary steps if she doesn’t.”

It wasn’t until a Sept. 27 opinion issued by the City Attorney’s office -- ruling that Cantrell was indeed a city employee subject to the city employee travel policy -- that Montano said his boss would be held responsible for her upgrade expenses.

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