The criminal complaint into New Orleans Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell's use of her city council credit card — based on opposition research by opponent Desiree Charbonnet's campaign and made public during the campaign by a key Charbonnet backer, District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro — smelled like political opportunism.
So does news that Attorney General Jeff Landry, to whom Cannizzaro referred the complaint, has subpoenaed Cantrell's records but not those of fellow council members, who in some cases handled their credit cards the same way. A more reassuring approach would be the one taken by the state Legislative Auditor, who is examining all council credit card spending.
But the investigation will go on as Cantrell prepares to take office, and there's nothing she can do about that but cooperate.
I wrote the other day that LaToya Cantrell, who started out the New Orleans mayoral runoff c…
There are some things she can do to reassure her new constituents that she takes concerns over improper use of public money seriously, though.
One is to hire a well-regarded money manager as part of her administration. A second is to use her seat on the City Council, where she'll remain until she's inaugurated in May, to propose a tightening of rules on how members use their credit cards and how they document the business purposes of their charges. A good model is the policy that Mayor Mitch Landrieu adopted after predecessor Ray Nagin and his top aides played pretty fast and loose.
And obviously, Cantrell should keep Landrieu's policy in place once she takes office.
The state legislative auditor is looking into how New Orleans City Council members use their…
The Charbonnet camp overplayed its hand on this issue, but the controversy did suggest Cantrell has a history of being less than rigorous with her office budget. She's not going to be able to put the matter behind her unless and until various authorities give her the all clear, but she can get ahead of the story.
At this point, why wouldn't she?