Despite a campaign-season opposition research dump and a still anonymously filed criminal complaint over her public credit card spending, now-New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell eventually emerged looking pretty good.
New documents behind the now-closed investigation present her in an even less incriminating light.
The state legislative auditor concluded that Cantrell’s use of her public credit card as a City Council member, while sometimes unsettlingly lax, was in line with other members’ practices. Following the dust-up, council rules for credit card use were, appropriately, tightened.
And the criminal complaint didn’t lead to any charges. This following an aggressive investigation by state Attorney General Jeff Landry, who picked up the case after Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, a prominent supporter of Cantrell’s runoff opponent Desiree Charbonnet, simultaneously recused himself and drew attention to the matter.
Documents obtained by The Advocate using a public records request round out the picture. They show that investigators looked for links between Cantrell’s public spending and her private finances, and came up empty. Landry waged a very public battle to gain access to Cantrell’s personal bank records, but his investigators found no questionable deposits or instances in which she didn’t have enough money in her own account to cover expenses she’d charged to the city, some of which she later reimbursed.
“Undoubtedly, the anonymous source targeted LaToya Cantrell for improper credit card expenditures due to the heightened political atmosphere of the recent mayoral election,” Special Agent John Montalbano said in his final report.
That’s some welcome honesty coming from the AG’s office.
It should also serve as a reminder that, while it's always important to take a good look at accusations against a politician, it's just as important to consider who’s doing the accusing.