Councilwoman Chauna Banks-Daniel spent campaign funds on clothes, hair and nails

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UPDATED: Councilwoman Chauna Banks-Daniel did not return calls or emails seeking comment for this post. But in the comments she responded, noting that she donated her own personal funds to the campaign. Here's her full comment which she posted Thursday morning to this story:

"Rebekah Allen's use of media stereotypes as a shorthand method of defining my character in ways that are easy for people to identify and categorize as a “self-serving politician”. What these stereotypes all have in common is that they reduce to a one-sided, superficial and exaggerated depiction of reality, variety, depth and complexity of a people. She consistently "inflame" stories dedicated to undermine the Black female council members. Though the media today is more sensitive to issues of culture and gender than it once was, Rebekah is dedicated to the creation and perpetuation of common misconceptions about groups of people. Her oversimplified and inaccurate portrayal of me and other woman on the council are intended to profoundly affected how we are perceived, how we relate to one another, and how we value ourselves.

SEE BELOW:

Hi Chauna -

I wanted to ask you about some expenditures listed on your campaign finance report. When the reports came out, I had seen that you spent some money on clothes, hair and nails. I only recently learned though, that the Ethics Commission has ruled that clothing expenditures are not considered allowable expenditures for campaign finances.

This has come up previously with some other legislators and judges and they were fined.

I wanted to get your take on why you think these are considered allowable expenditures for campaign finances?

Thanks,

Rebekah

THE ADVOCATE

Rebekah Allen

Reporter

rallen@theadvocate.com

Tel: (225) 388-0099

www.theadvocate.com

Cell: (225) 229-8766

NOW THIS IS WHAT I LEARNED FROM THIS REPORTER:

2013-MAKE UP OR EXXAGERATE MY RESPONSES TO MAKE THE STORY JUICY OR KEEP THE MESS GOING.

2014-CREATE STORIES REGARDING ME USING MY EMAILS.

2015-PULL ETHICS REPORT, THOUGH SHE IS EMAILING ME FOR A RESPONSE...SHE HAS ALREADY WRITTEN A SCANDOLOUS ARTICLE. REBEKAH WILL NOT INCLUDE THAT I CONTRIBUTED ALMOST $1200 OF MY PERSONAL FUNDS IN MY CAMPAIGN FUND, WHICH MORE THAN COVERS ANY INCIDENTALS, SHE IS REFERRING TO 4 OR 5 PURCHASES TOTALING LESS THAN $300.00. I AM CONSTANTLY CALLED UPON TO MAKE DONATIONS, GIVE DOOR PRIZES, AND PROVIDE CLOTHING, FOOD, GROOMING, AND TRANSPORTATION TO THOSE THAT I SERVE.

I send out a press release at least once a month of positive things that me and my staff are doing in District 2, NOT ONE has been printed in The Advocate in 2 years.

Was Rebekah at our SCOTLANDVILLE COMMUNITY MEETING two nights ago, of course not. Rebekah is assigned to cover City-Parish government, as long as she is, I will CONTINUE to be off limits to her. She will have to continue to "intensify and make-up” stories concerning me."

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..."