New Orleans, mayor , Latoya Cantrell, first-class

New Orleans Mayor Hit With Ethics Charges After 15 First-Class Flight Upgrades Were Made On Taxpayers’ Dime

The mayor maintains her upgrades were for safety reasons, not luxury.

The Mayor of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell, is being charged with state ethics charges for upgrading her airline tickets for first-class seats.

The Louisiana Board of Ethics found upgrades were made for 13 domestic and two international flights, totaling close to $30,000 at taxpayers’ expense for two years. According to the mayor, she made the changes for “safety, not luxury,” citing first-class accommodations were needed to limit COVID-19 exposure.

“Anyone who wants to question how I protect myself just doesn’t understand the world Black women walk in,” Cantrell previously said in a statement.

After the New Orleans City Council pressured her to have her pay docked, Cantrell reimbursed the city in full in 2022, even though she originally refused to do so.

“All expenses incurred doing business on behalf of the City of New Orleans will not be reimbursed to the City of New Orleans,” Cantrell said in September last year. “I do my job, and I will continue to do it with distinction and integrity every step of the way.”

The ethics board will set a date to hear the charges against Cantrell, which include an official censure and a possible fine of $10,000. 

The mayor’s office said the mayor and the administration have addressed the travel issue appropriately and will respond to the ethics complaint in due time. Currently, Cantrell is overseas in Africa with the United Nations for a meeting highlighting plastic pollution.

Louisiana elected officials tend to follow the same pattern. Attorney General Jeff Landry faced similar accusations after the Board of Ethics required him to pay a penalty after failing to disclose roundtrip flights he took to and from Hawaii in 2021. The flights were taken on a private jet owned by retired oil and gas businessman Greg Mosing to attend the Attorney General Alliance conference at the Grand Wailea Maui, a luxury beachfront resort.