Democratic New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has been criticized for spending more that $50,000 in taxpayer funds on security services, and $175,000 on campaign funds on a personal stylist/shopper.
WWL-TV reports that at least two New Orleans-area stores have been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury and are being questioned by FBI agents about the purchases made by Tanya Blunt-Haynes, Cantrell’s personal shop assistant.
Gregory Joseph, Cantrell’s communications director, stated to NOLA.COM that his office had not been informed of any federal investigation into Mayor Cantrell. In the unlikely event that this is changed, however, our office will continue to cooperate fully with all inquiries from agencies.
According to the news outlet, Cantrell’s campaign manager refused to comment on the matter.
This controversy follows a month in which Cantrell was criticized for using taxpayer money on first-class flights to Europe in January 2021. Although the mayor earns $188,000 per year, he initially refused to pay the city $29,000 for the upgrade, but eventually he did.
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She stated that the high-end travel accommodations she had purchased were “a matter safety and not luxury.”
Cantrell stated, “Anyone who questions how I protect myself doesn’t understand what the world Black women live in.”
Cantrell, who has not employed security services since the beginning of 2021 and had never spent more than $50,000 on bodyguard services, is causing controversy after she brought Officer Jeffrey Vappie into her executive protection team in May 2021.
WVUE-DT reports that Cantrell took a police officer on her first trip to Scotland five months after she hired Vappie. Cantrell also brought Vappie with her on another trip to Scotland. The two were able to attend a fundraiser at a Beverly Hills mansion where Brad Pitt was present.
Robert Collins, a political analyst, said that the timeline didn’t make sense. The taxpayers will ask Robert Collins, political analyst at WVUE-DT, “OK, so, if it really is necessary to protect yourself, then why did you not have protection on your earlier trips?” Why are you not wearing protection when you walk alone in the French Quarter? Why do you choose when to have protection and when not?