New Orleans controversial Democrat mayor is accused of living in taxpayer-funded apartment rent free

Controversial New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell admitted to living rent-free in an apartment in the city’s French Quarter.

Cantrell, who previously caused outrage when she spent city money on first-class air travel on the excuse that economy class was “unsafe” for black women, claims she has done nothing illegal.

The apartment is located in the city’s Upper Pontalba building on Jackson Square in the famous neighborhood and has a market price of $2,991 per month.

A spokesman for Cantrell and the city councilman who serves on the board of directors of French Market Corp. who manages the building, have said that everything is under the city’s terms with the French Market Corp. is legal.

However, the city’s Metropolitan Crime Commission on Thursday sent a report to the city council asking for an investigation into Cantrell’s use of the apartment.

The city's Metropolitan Crime Commission showed photos of New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell entering and exiting the apartment, and produced witness testimony that she spent nights there, putting up privacy screens and taking packages

The city’s Metropolitan Crime Commission showed photos of New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell entering and exiting the apartment, and produced witness testimony that she spent nights there, putting up privacy screens and taking packages

Controversial New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell admitted to living rent-free in an apartment in the city's French Quarter

Controversial New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell admitted to living rent-free in an apartment in the city’s French Quarter

The apartment is located in the city's Upper Pontalba building on Jackson Square in the famous neighborhood and has a market price of $2,991 per month

The apartment is located in the city’s Upper Pontalba building on Jackson Square in the famous neighborhood and has a market price of $2,991 per month

MCC showed photos of the mayor entering and exiting the apartment, and provided witness testimony that she stayed nights, put up privacy screens, and received packages.

City Council President Helena Moreno is asking for time to review the findings before agreeing to an investigation.

A spokesman for Eugene Green, who serves on the board of directors of French Market Corp. seated, said: “Counselor Green is not aware of any regulations or procedures that may have been violated.”

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FMC records obtained by WWL-TV state that no rent was paid for the apartment between September 1, 2021 and July 31, 2022.

It is also alleged that a city employee was employed as a de facto builder to fix problems in the apartment.

A spokesman for Eugene Green, who serves on the board of directors of French Market Corp.  seated, said:

A spokesman for Eugene Green, who serves on the board of directors of French Market Corp. seated, said: “Counselor Green is not aware of any regulations or procedures that may have been violated.”

The report shows Cantrell speaking to Byron Cornelison of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs about a leak in the bathroom and telling him when would be a good time to fix it.

She previously wrote to him that she wanted to get Cox Cable employees to fix the WiFi in the apartment.

Rafael Goyeneche, the president of the MCC, called this regulation inappropriate for the mayor and said: “This is an additional tax-free benefit that she receives. She doesn’t have to live there or use it. And I think it’s an abuse and abuse of their authority. But I’ll wait and see how the city council behaves.”

Goyeneche demands an investigation from the council.

Cantrell’s communications director, Gregory Joseph, responded: “The mayor’s use of the city-owned apartment in the Pontalba is consistent with use by previous mayors. The 2013 franchise agreement does not specify how this unit should be used and the FMC believes that the mayor is not required to pay rent for this apartment because she uses it in the same way as previous mayors have enjoyed.

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The mayor has been in the news quite a bit lately after declaring economy class flights unsafe for black women while insisting she donate $30,000 in taxpayer money spent on first class flights to France and the United States flowed to Switzerland, will not repay.

At a news conference on Thursday, LaToya Cantrell said: “My travel accommodations are a matter of safety, not luxury.

“As all women know, our health and safety are often neglected and we are left alone.

“As the mother of a young child that I live for, I will protect myself by whatever means necessary to ensure I am there to see her grow into the strong woman I am raising her to be.

“Anyone who wants to ask how I protect myself just doesn’t understand the world black women walk in.”

She has repeatedly refused to pay for herself the cost of an American Airlines luxury flight from Washington Dulles Airport to Switzerland in July, despite a city ban on luxury air travel.

Cantrell spent around $10,000 on her own flatbed seat and squandered a similar amount on a first-class return to France earlier this year — while her assistants traveled on the bus.

Cantrell has defended her purchase of the luxury tickets as she is both “doing business” on behalf of the city and believes it would not be safe for her to travel economy class.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell is refusing to repay monies spent on international business and first-class flights to France and Switzerland

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell is refusing to repay monies spent on international business and first-class flights to France and Switzerland

While the mayor sat in first class, her team, including her security personnel, sat in the carriage.

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The chief administrative officer has revealed how the legal department is still investigating whether Cantrell needs to reimburse nearly $30,000 in taxpayer money for first-class tickets to France and Switzerland.

When the mayor was asked by journalists on Thursday whether she was considering refilling the city’s coffers, the mayor’s reaction was extremely harsh.

“Any expenses incurred in doing business on behalf of the City of New Orleans will not be reimbursed to the City of New Orleans,” Mayor Cantrell said outside the Nix Library.

“One thing is clear; I do my job and will continue to do it with distinction and integrity every step of the way. And that’s what I have to say about it!’

During a press conference, Cantrell stated their purchase was more of a

During a press conference, Cantrell stated their purchase was more of a “safety issue” than a convenience issue. She also justified the extravagant expenses with the fact that they were business trips

The mayor insists the trips and luxury travel expenses were necessary to improve New Orleans itself.

But the city’s travel policy leaves little wiggle room: “Employees must purchase the lowest available airfare…Employees who choose to upgrade from economy or business class flights are solely responsible for the difference in fare.”

The policy also states, “Any settlement of travel expenses that results in an overpayment by the city requires that the employee reimburse the city within twenty business days.”