More purchases linked to Cantrell’s image consultant under federal investigation

Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 6:26 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 18, 2022 at 10:12 AM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Federal investigators are looking into more purchases made by Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s campaign image consultant and her husband, according to a new subpoena obtained by Fox 8.

On Wednesday, Fox 8 learned of a subpoena issued in August to Ballin’s, a high-end clothing store, seeking more details of about 20 purchases of clothing and accessories worth thousands of dollars made by Mayor Cantrell’s stylist and personal shopper, Tanya Blunt-Haynes.

A source tells Fox 8 that the same FBI agent and the same Assistant U.S. Attorney, Jordan Ginsberg, who issued the subpoena to Ballin’s also requested documents related to two purchases worth $17,000 made by Haynes and her husband at a Metairie kitchen and bath store.

At the kitchen and bath store, a source says the transactions were made with two credit cards. At the clothing store, some purchases were made with a combination of credit cards and cash, and some were paid for completely in cash, which a former federal prosecutor says could be problematic.

“Cash at this time in 2022, when you have public employees paid by paycheck and in conjunction with that, have campaign accounts that have to track incoming and outgoing monies when cash is involved... it’s a huge red flag,” said former federal prosecutor Matt Coman.

Subpoenas are not the first step in a federal investigation. Coman says something else had to tip investigators off.

“There would have to be some predicate for the subpoenas to go out. It could be a news story, a witness coming forward, or the receipt of some material. They could come in a number of different categories, but something had to occur for the subpoenas to be generated,” said Coman.

The federal probe comes on the heels of investigations launched by both the NOPD’s Public Integrity Bureau and the Office of Inspector General involving Cantrell’s time spent at a city-owned apartment with a member of her security team.

“It’s a much bigger deal if the FBI is looking into her because the PIB and everything over there. Those are her employees. They don’t have the power to indict and that’s the power that the FBI and the US Attorneys Office has,” said Fox 8 Legal Analyst Joe Raspanti.

When asked about the FBI investigation, City Hall spokesman Gregory Joseph issued a statement that said, “We have not been made aware of any investigation concerning Mayor Cantrell.”

Cantrell has so far not commented on the federal investigation. Our calls to Haynes and her husband have gone unanswered.

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