Democratic New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell is refusing to apologize or to pay back the more than $29,000 in first- and business-class travel she’s taken at taxpayer expense since January 2021.
“All expenses incurred doing business on behalf of the city of New Orleans will not be reimbursed to the city of New Orleans,” Cantrell said, according to local CBS affiliate WWL. “One thing is clear: I do my job, and I will continue to do it with distinction and integrity every step of the way. That’s what I have to say on that.”
Her behavior flies in the face of New Orleans’ city travel policy, which states that all municipal workers must choose the cheapest airfare or pay back any cost differences, the outlet reported. Cantrell’s chief administrative officer, Gilbert Montano, told reporters it’s unclear whether the policy applies to the mayor, the Times-Picayune reported.
At yesterday’s press conference, @FOX8NOLA was the only station that asked Mayor LaToya Cantrell about whether or not she will reimburse thousands of dollars to the city for her travel upgrades.
Here’s her full statement: pic.twitter.com/swA2flFIkc
— Andrés Fuentes (@news_fuentes) September 9, 2022
On one trip to France, Cantrell spent $43,000 in taxpayer money, including $18,000 on airfare alone, the Times-Picayune found. In March, she spent more than $2,800 to fly first class to Miami for a conference, roughly nine times more than New Orleans Police Department superintendent Shaun Ferguson paid to fly economy to attend the same event, the outlet continued. She paid similar amounts for other first-class domestic travel, including a $2,300 flight to Washington, D.C., WWL reported.
“As all women know, our health and safety are often disregarded and we are left to navigate alone,” Cantrell told the Times-Picayune in August. “As the mother of a young child whom I live for, I am going to protect myself by any reasonable means in order to ensure I am there to see her grow into the strong woman I am raising her to be.” (RELATED: Here’s Why America’s Biggest Companies Are Fleeing Blue States)
She continued to defend the expenses on luxury travel, telling the Times-Picayune that, “[a]nyone who wants to question how I protect myself just doesn’t understand the world Black women walk in.” The same luxuries were not extended to one of her aides, who accompanied her on a trip but flew coach, the outlet noted.