The Charbonnet campaign is not the only folks making a cow out of public corruption allegations. Nor is it the only gang throwing around the infamous names of C. Ray Nagin or, how about “Dollar Bill” Jefferson? Nope. The NotforSaleNola.com bunch, who are spending hundreds of thousands to torpedo a Charbonnet-for-Mayor campaign, is doing its best to associate the former Municipal Court Judge to scandal, corruption, greed, and relationships with what they claim are some bad campaign supporter-dudes.
Today, we received from the Charbonnet campaign the following update on the LaToya Cantrell credit card controversy. Apparently, the Legislative Auditor is nosing around the Cantrell investigation and the City Council’s use of city credit cards. The Charbonnet forces are anxious to remind the voters that the Nagin criminal case, which led to a federal conviction, started out the same way, under the legislative auditor auspices.
Here is the latest e-missive from Team Charbonnet:
New Details Emerge as Legislative Auditor Announces Investigation of Cantrell
A deeper dive into thousands of dollars of unreimbursed credit card expenses as the Legislative Auditor Launches Investigation
In tones reminiscent of the Ray Nagin scandal, which also began in earnest with a Legislative Auditor’s inquiry, yesterday the Louisiana Legislative Auditor commenced an investigation of Latoya Cantrell and the city council for possible misuse of the city credit card.
What can the auditor expect to find? Smoking guns everywhere. A deeper dive into the receipts now shows undeniably personal expenses: allergy medications, feminine hygiene products, hot bar meals, sushi rolls, a phone charger, and even a Christmas turkey.
“This is all eerily familiar,” said Charbonnet senior media advisor Kevin Stuart. “Legal authorities are following a well-defined playbook for white-collar crime. Just like in Ray Nagin’s case, we can expect the legislative auditor’s report to be turned over to the Attorney General and the United States Attorney. Indictments often follow from there.”
Among the outright violations such as the purchase of a gift card, receipts without substantiation that city business was conducted, alcohol purchases and highly questionable expenses such as lavish meals with no itemized receipt or city business purpose, what may be the most damning evidence in the stack are the undeniably personal expenses—personal expenses charged to the taxpayers of New Orleans and never reimbursed.
“Cantrell has offered plenty of excuses, each one flimsier than the last, but there’s simply no defense for these obviously personal expenses. One pattern we see over and over again in the receipts are personal meals. Cantrell is very fond of the hot bar at Rouses, but the Legislative Auditor and U.S. Attorney may not be. We need to remember that while Nagin faced 21 counts in his indictment, the last four all had to do with misusing the city credit card,” said Stuart.
Attached is a spreadsheet of unreimbursed, non-travel expenses. Highlighted items are a sample of the most egregious personal purchases for which Latoya Cantrell stuck the people of New Orleans with the bill. Where they exist, copies of receipts can be provided upon request.
Again, name-dropping of the likes of corrupted New Orleans public officials of past political lore—Nagin and Jefferson--are not monopolized by the anti-Cantrell forces. A quick review of the NotForSaleNola site reveals its third chapter with links to newspaper articles.
HE PAY-FOR-PLAY CANDIDATE AND HER CAROUSEL OF CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS.
The Times Picayune
July 17, 2017
"I’ve heard $20,000 and I’ve heard $25,000,” Head said. “Government contractors are having to give that amount of money to candidates in order to gain access to the potential of a city contract.”
“People have gone to jail for that.”
– Stacy Head,
Charbonnet’s bundled contributions have made her the target of attacks — subtle and not — from Cantrell, who has cast herself as not beholden to the “political machine”. . . who might expect special access in return for their donations.
– The New Orleans Advocate,
Desiree Charbonnet raised more than $400,000 from city contractors, and she collected most of it before she even announced her campaign for mayor.
Desiree has received $145,000 from six contractors with millions of dollars of city work – work most can receive without a public bid.
Even an ally of corrupt former Mayor Ray Nagin kicked in $18,000 to Charbonnet through various firms and relatives.
THE MORAL OF THIS CHAPTER:
We don’t want to go back to Ray Nagin and Bill Jefferson’s Pay-for-Play Corruption.
Say no to Corruption.
Say no to Desiree Charbonnet.
For now, perhaps the discussion should turn to whether the ongoing Cantrell credit card saga will make any real differences in the election as Charbonnet obviously would like its impact to be. Earlier this week, a poll commissioned by a pro-education reform group claimed Cantrell ahead by 18 points. While Kevin Stuart claims their internal polls show otherwise, there is no public poll that counters the 18 point differential. With ten days left to go, assuming the accuracy of that 18-point survey margin, the ultimate inquiry just might be, “how much milk can Charbonnet squeeze out of a New Orleans credit card?”
I’m sure we won’t go thirsty for lack of "tasty" details and campaign allegations.