Zurik: Toni Rice resigns from Multicultural Tourism Network

Updated: Jan. 26, 2017 at 8:28 AM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The subject of a FOX 8 investigation has resigned from her job. The resignation follows our story that questioned spending on trips and meals at a nonprofit funded with your money, taxpayer money.

Toni Rice dodged our questions about her nonprofit, the New Orleans Multicultural Tourism Network, which gets about $500,000 of taxpayer money every year.

In our investigation, we found credit card charges on trips and food without explanations for why taxpayers needed to foot the bill.

For example, July 2014, records show Rice traveled to Miami for the International Multicultural Conference. There, she used the nonprofit's credit card four times at the pool bar, spending $137.81.  Rice also charged an additional $90 at the hotel's main bar, and rented two pool lounge chairs. Receipts show Rice made that trip with one other adult and a 10-year-old child.

Before the conference in Miami, she made two charges at the Crowne Plaza in Orlando. In Orlando, she also charged $511 to "IOA ADMI" - a quick search on the internet reveals that may be associated with Universal Studios.

NOMTN chairwoman Essence Harris sent us an email Wednesday, writing, "Toni Rice has resigned as the Multicultural Tourism Networks president... effective Monday. She's no longer on the payroll."

During her time as president Rice ignored board policies. She failed to follow the credit card policy that instructed her to keep receipts. And she continued to purchase gas on the nonprofit's credit card; policy didn't allow that.

Purchase after purchase raised questions with us, and local CPA Patrick Lynch.

"She's rented automobiles from Enterprise throughout the metropolitan area: Baronne Street and Kenner," Lynch noted in a 2016 interview. "And, the same day, she rented two automobiles from the Kenner location."

Rice never answered our questions, but now the New Orleans Multicultural Tourism Network will be looking for a new leader, ending Rice's 20-year run with the nonprofit

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