Mayor Cantrell hit with ethics charges over first-class flight upgrades
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Louisiana Board of Ethics has filed charges against New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell for allegedly violating state ethics law related to her use of first-class flights.
The Ethics Board charged Cantrell under a state law that prohibits public officials from receiving anything of value for their official duties.
The charges state that Cantrell received a total of $28,856.99 in first-class flight upgrades, which were not in compliance with the City of New Orleans Travel Policy.
The city policy states all traveling city employees are required to seek the lowest fares available or reimburse the city for deluxe accommodations.
The flights included 13 domestic and two international trips.
The mayor’s office responded to the report by saying that they believe both the mayor and the administration have appropriately addressed the travel issue and will respond to the ethics complaint in due course.
Prior to the filing of the ethics charges, the mayor originally said she had no intentions of paying back taxpayer money spent on first-class flight tickets overseas, claiming the upgrades were not for luxury, but for her health and safety.
“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 on Sept. 6, 2022. “I do my job and I will continue to do it with distinction and integrity every step of the way.”
She said then that the threat of COVID prompted her to fly first class in some cases and she’s previously cited security concerns.
“And I stand by [that] all day long,” she said.
“Anyone who wants to question how I protect myself just doesn’t understand the world Black women walk in,” Mayor Cantrell previously said in a statement.
The Ethics Board says Cantrell is required to reimburse the City within 20 business days of the end of the trip and that between Feb. 2021 and Aug. 2022, Cantrell did not reimburse the city in a timely manner.
The case will go before the Ethics Adjudicatory Board, which could censure or fine Cantrell up to $10,000 for the alleged violations.
Cantrell is currently in Kenya for a United Nations meeting focused on discussing plastic pollution.
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