Nov 9, 2023 - News

Mayor Cantrell charged with ethics violations for first-class flight upgrades

Photo illustration of LaToya Cantrell with lines radiating from her.

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Kaitlyn Morris/Getty Images

Mayor LaToya Cantrell is facing state ethics charges after the Louisiana Board of Ethics says she improperly billed the city for 15 first-class flight upgrades.

Why it matters: The charges are a sharp rebuke to the mayor, who has previously said the flight upgrades were essential for her safety as a Black woman and because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Between the lines: Cantrell currently is on a weeklong trip to Kenya to represent New Orleans at a United Nations meeting about plastic pollution.

Driving the news: The board said Cantrell flew first class at the city's expense on 15 domestic and international flights between Feb. 11, 2021, and Aug. 23, 2022.

  • Destinations included Italy, France, Miami, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., according to documents obtained by Axios.
  • The rates were higher than permitted by the city's travel policy, the documents say, and she did not timely reimburse the city for the amount of the higher fare.
  • The cost difference in flight grades was $28,856.99, the board said. Cantrell reimbursed the city in full on Oct. 28, 2022.

Yes, but: The board said Cantrell violated the law because she wasn't entitled to received the upgrades. | The Times-Picayune first reported on the charges Thursday.

What they're saying: "We believe both the Mayor and the administration have appropriately addressed the travel issue and will respond to the Ethics complaint in due course," John Lawson, the mayor's press secretary, said to Axios via email.

What's next: The Ethics Adjudicatory Board may choose to censure Cantrell and fine her up to $10,000.

Go deeper:

Editor's note: This is a breaking news story. Check back for further updates.


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