Legislative audit of City Council credit cards could bring changes

Updated: Nov. 8, 2017 at 6:18 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The head of the Metro Crime Commission expresses hope that an investigation into City Council credit card use leads to reforms. Rafael Goyeneche also says that a new investigation by the legislative auditor could result in more investigations.

"There should be a bright line between public and non public expenditures," said Goyeneche, who believes policies that have taken center stage in the mayor's race are too open-ended and subject to abuse.

"Part of what's come out is the lack of written rules with respect to City Council credit cards," said Goyeneche.

Mayoral candidate Latoya Cantrell repaid more than $4,000 to the city after she qualified for mayor in July, but she said her expenditures are legal and part of her outreach.

"Oh man, outreach is pretty much everything," said Cantrell.

When asked if she would change anything as mayor, she responded, "The council has a budget of $30,000...and discretion with the policy that's in place, sets that tone."

"In July of this year, she reconciled and made repayments...therein is a problem," said Goyeneche.

Crime watchdogs say clearer policies when it comes to city spending are needed.

"Whatever they find there will be recommendations on rules and regulations that need to be updated and enforced," said Goyeneche.

And Goyeneche said the investigation won't likely stop with the legislative auditor.

"If they find something questionable, they will turn it over to a prosecutor," he said.

Even though Cantrell waited three years to reimburse the city for thousands of dollars in expenses, she insists she's done nothing wrong.

"It's proven that my policies are aligned with the New Orleans City Council," Cantrell said.

But policy changes may be on the way.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu changed the policies regarding city credit cards used in his office after a scathing report by the city's inspector general concerning alleged abuses in previous administrations.  At that time, the I.G. only looked at mayoral credit card policies, and offered no opinion when it came to council credit card use.

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