As the Democratic mayor of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell travels frequently. However, Louisiana taxpayers were surprised to discover that she spent upwards $30,000 on first-class airline tickets for a recent trip to France and Switzerland. Now Cantrell is refusing to repay the money despite public outcry, insisting that first-class was her only way to travel safely.
Cantrell made it clear during her Thursday press conference that she is not giving back taxpayer money for her pricey flights. Instead, she has chosen to fly first class and continue to charge the taxpayers a premium, as she said previously.
“My travel accommodations are a matter of safety, not of luxury,” LaToya Cantrell stated. “As all women know, our health and safety are often disregarded, and we are left to navigate alone. As the mother of a young child whom I live for, I am going to protect myself by any reasonable means in order to ensure I am there to see her grow into the strong woman I am raising her to be. Anyone who wants to question how I protect myself just doesn’t understand the world black women walk in.”
A city ordinance has been passed in New Orleans prohibiting elected officials from taking luxury air travel. Nonetheless, Cantrell spent approximately $10,000 for a first-class ticket on a flight from Washington D.C. to Switzerland this past July. Cantrell also paid significant sums of money on air tickets for the purpose of commuting to France and conducting “business.” While Cantrell was in the front of the plane with her own flatbed seat, her staff had to fly economy class.
The law department is currently looking at documents relating to Cantrell’s costly journeys and attempting to determine if the mayor of New Orleans has to reimburse taxpayers for about $30,000 in travel costs.
When reporters questioned her expenses, she replied back with a harsh voice.
“All expenses incurred doing business on behalf of the city of New Orleans will not be reimbursed to the city of New Orleans,” Mayor Cantrell stated. “One thing is clear; I do my job, and I will continue to do it with distinction and integrity every step of the way. And so, that’s what I have to say on that!”
Despite what the mayor claims, the city’s travel policy is rather explicit.
“Employees are required to purchase the lowest airfare available…Employees who choose an upgrade from coach, economy, or business class flights are solely responsible for the difference in cost.”
The policy continued: “Any reconciliation of travel expenses that results in overpayment by the City requires that the employee reimburse the City within twenty business days.”
Do you think this Democratic mayor should repay the thousands of dollars in taxpayer money she spent on luxury travel?