The mayor of The Big Easy is once again in big trouble.
New Orlean’s Mayor LaToya Cantrell — fresh off a scandal that forced her to repay nearly $29,000 for first-class flights — is now facing questions over the long hours her male bodyguard puts in at her apartment and the thousands of dollars her richly rewarded “image consultant” spends on Cantrell’s wardrobe.
Over the course of 27 days, Cantrell’s bodyguard, Officer Jeffrey Vappie, reportedly spent 112 hours at the mayor’s apartment doing such things as watering her plants while she “allegedly does little work,” according to the Daily Mail.
In one instance, he flew first class with Cantrell on a VIP trip to Los Angeles so she could meet actor Brad Pitt.
Meanwhile, Cantrell’s stylist, who since 2017 has received $175,000 for her efforts, has been spending thousands of dollars on the mayor’s clothes, expenditures that could spark a criminal probe.
These are just the latest in a string of allegations against Cantrell over her misuse of funds and resources.
Last month, BizPac Review reported that the apartment that the bodyguard is frequenting is a two-bedroom, two-bath unit in the French Market Corporation’s Upper Pontalba Building in Jackson Square with a fair market value of almost $3,000 a month.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) October 3, 2022
Reports are Cantrell may be living in the city-owned digs free of charge.
The news came to light after a two-month investigation by Fox8 New Orleans, which reviewed 630 hours of 24-hour surveillance footage to determine Cantrell was “at the apartment almost every day over a 26-day period.”
According to the city of New Orleans’ standards of behavior policy — one that must be signed and returned by each city employee — the “use of city property is for work-related purposes, and not personal benefit.”
Also last month, Cantrell was torched for claiming she had to fly first class because economy isn’t safe for black women.
“Anyone who wants to question how I protect myself just doesn’t understand the world black women walk in,” she said at a press conference. “My travel accommodations are a matter of safety, not of luxury.”
— Kennedy (@KennedyNation) September 13, 2022
Regarding Cantrell’s September first-class trip with Officer Vappie to meet Brad Pitt, a Dillard University political analyst told Fox8 that he didn’t get why Vappie’s services would be needed, as the Beverly Hills event would already have a security team in place.
“You don’t need protection at an event where there’s almost certainly already security there,” said Robert Collins. “Because it’s a fundraising event. There are VIPs there. So you know that there are going to be police officers and protection. So that’s probably an event where you do not need protection.”
Collins also noted that Cantrell only began traveling with a security detail after Vappie joined her team in May 2021.
“The timeline doesn’t really make any sense,” he said. “The taxpayers are going to ask: if you really need protection, why didn’t you have protection on the earlier trips? Why don’t you have protection when you’re walking by yourself in the French Quarter? Why are you selectively choosing when to have a protective detail and when not to have a protective detail?”
The cost to taxpayers of bringing security with her on trips has, since October 2021, been more than $50,000, according to Fox8’s calculations.
As for her stylist, Cantrell has, since 2017, paid out of her campaign roughly $175,000 to Tanya Haynes and her business, Jolie Image Consulting. At times, the payments reached $6,000 per month.
“Two stores where Haynes shopped – Ballin’s Boutique, where she often bought clothes for the mayor, and BC Kitchen and Bath, where Haynes recently ordered a new $17,000 kitchen – have been subpoenaed,” according to the Daily Mail.
Remarkably, Cantrell insists she’s doing a fantastic job for New Orleans, despite the city’s skyrocketing crime and infrastructure issues.
“In regards to my work in the city of New Orleans, it’s really been unmatched,’ she told Fox8’s Lee Zurik on Wednesday. “I can point to the results on the ground. The budget hearings that are underway right now speak to my work that my administration and team have done and continue to do for the city of New Orleans relative to public safety, relative to housing, relative to infrastructure and I can literally go on and on.”
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