Mayor Cantrell should pay taxpayers back $50k for mailer, Councilwoman Moreno says
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New Orleans City Council Vice President Helena Moreno says that Mayor LaToya Cantrell should pay back taxpayers over $50,000 for a mailer that a legal analyst says was purely political.
In a letter sent Fri., Feb. 24, the city’s Chief Administrative Officer Gilbert Montano says he is not aware of any legal opinion that was sought before a “City of New Orleans 2022 Recap” pamphlet was sent to 106,000 New Orleans homes, touting Mayor Cantrell’s accomplishments.
“If you read the statute and you look at the behavior, it appears that it violates the criminal statute,” Fox 8 Legal Analyst Joe Raspanti said. “Her name and face is what screams illegality to me. You’re not supposed to self-promote on the taxpayer’s dime and she’s all over this and her name’s all over this.”
As efforts to recall Mayor Cantrell entered its final weeks, the city sent out the tri-fold mailer in early February, prompting council members to ask questions.
“This mailer is displayed in a way to talk about Mayor Cantrell and accomplishments,” Councilwoman Moreno said. “It’s very political.”
In response to the council’s inquiry, Montano responded with a letter saying that postage cost $32,623 and printing cost $18,323.
Documents obtained by Fox 8 show the total cost came in closer to $65,000.
“It would appear that a legal opinion should’ve been sought because it looks like it’s a direct contravention of a criminal statute... with her likeness all over something that appears like a campaign pamphlet that was paid for with taxpayer money,” Raspanti said.
In a statement, Moreno called the mailer political and an “inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars.”
Mayor Cantrell may have broken state law mailing out flyers
Organizers deliver Mayor Cantrell recall petition to registrar, claiming sufficient signatures for special election
Recall organizers file suit, claim 30,000 people shouldn’t be on the “active” voter list
Signatures to oust Cantrell are one thing; a recall election is another
“Now we are learning that it did not receive any legal approval to be sent. Since no one had provided evidence of legality, it is in the public’s interest for the mayor’s team to reimburse the city for all costs associated with the mailer,” Moreno’s statement continues.
It also appears this is the first time Cantrell’s administration has ever sent out a yearly recap mailer like this.
Fox 8 asked the city of New Orleans for documents related to “End of Year Recap” mailers from prior years. They told us none existed.
That means in 2018-2022, the Cantrell administration never sent out similar mailers. Only in January of 2023.
Montano’s letter advises the council to check with the city’s law department but Raspanti says the matter could wind up before the district attorney.
“The Orleans Parish City Attorney just gives us an opinion,” Raspanti said. “It’s up to the DA to decide if a crime is committed and whether or not he chooses to pursue it.”
Fox 8 reached out to the mayor’s office for comment but has not heard back.
See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Click Here to report it. Please include the headline.
Copyright 2023 WVUE. All rights reserved.