New Orleans Mayor-Elect Latoya Cantrell is already under investigation. Cantrell, who won her seat in a run-off held Nov. 18 is being investigated for use of a City Council-issued credit card while serving on the City Council.
The attorney general is handling an anonymous criminal complaint against Cantrell that came after her runoff opponent, former municipal Judge Desiree Charbonnet, gave the media public records showing thousands of dollars in questionable purchases made with Cantrell’s city credit card. Records show Cantrell purchased turkeys, hens, other meals, beverages and even feminine products with her card. Days before she qualified for the mayor’s race, she reimbursed the city $4,400 and insists she did nothing wrong.
Cantrell and Charbonnet were the top two finishers from a field of 18 in an October election to succeed term-limited incumbent Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Like Landrieu, both of the candidates were Democrats and Cantrell’s election makes her the first female mayor of New Orleans
Negative campaigns sometimes overshadowed issues. Cantrell faced questions about here use of a city credit card. Charbonnet was cast by critics as an insider who would steer city work to political allies. Her father-in-law, Harry Cantrell, is a magistrate judge.
Meanwhile, some pundits ponder whether publicity over the probe could overshadow the long transition period Cantrell has been handed after winning the mayor’s race.
“It’s certainly going to be more of a challenge than normal mayors-elect have, because normal mayors-elect don’t have legal issues as soon as they’re elected,” said Robert Collins, a professor of Urban Studies and Public Policy at Dillard University.
Cantrell rose to prominence in New Orleans as a neighborhood activist after Katrina, then won a City Council seat.