Baton Rouge Councilwoman Chauna Banks-Daniel rejects 'media stereotypes,' defends spending campaign funds on clothes, hair, nails _lowres

Advocate staff file photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Metro Councilwoman Chauna Banks-Daniel.

Baton Rouge Metro Councilwoman Chauna Banks-Daniel spent more than $350 of her campaign finance contributions last year on clothing, beauty supplies and getting her hair and nails done.

The first-term council woman who represents North Baton Rouge and the Scotlandville/Baker area spent a total of $10,500 in campaign funds in 2014. She did not return a call or email for this post.

The 12 council members are not in an election year, so spending and fundraising was relatively unnoteworthy for the rest of the council members in 2014, based on their annual campaign finance reports turned in last month.

Banks-Daniel’s expenses related to clothing and beauty services in 2014 are:

  • Jan. 25: Rochelle Singleton for “hair grooming,” $41
  • May 13: Pearl Nails for “nail salon,” $30
  • May 15: Beauty Plus for “beauty supplies,” $31.20
  • Sept. 29: Gina Fashion for “clothing,” $21.79
  • Sept. 29: Pearl Nails for “nail salon,” $30
  • Oct. 2: Trung Luong for “nail salon,” $29
  • Oct. 11: Hair Connection for “hair salon,” $115
  • Nov. 10: Dillard’s for “clothing,” $54.27

Banks-Daniel also spent $83.92 for “car care” at Benny’s Car Wash on May 21 with her campaign funds.

Campaign finance law says campaign funds can only be spent on political campaigns or the costs associated with holding public office. Expenses like sports tickets, renting cars, babysitters and meals are often considered appropriate expenditures.

But Banks-Daniel’s purchases could potentially be viewed as inappropriate, considering the Ethics Board has previously gone after other officials for spending campaign funds on their personal appearances.

In 2002, State Judge Janice Clark paid a $5,000 fine for illegally using $32,000 from her campaign fund to “to enhance her personal appearance and wardrobe.” Clark also repaid the $32,000 to her campaign account.

“Unfortunately, the Board has considered such requests in the past and has consistently held that clothing expenses cannot be paid for out of campaign funds,” Kathleen Allen, a Louisiana Ethics Board administrator wrote in an 2009 opinion.

Another ethics opinion from 1998 reads: “The following expenses are illustrative of the types of expenses that may not be paid with campaign funds: household food items and supplies, routine living expenses, clothing…”