Questions Persist About Mayor Cantrell’s 2022 Recap Brochure: Was Fraud Committed?

Source: Kaitlin Barber

City of New Orleans CAO Gilbert Montano provided a partial response Friday, February 24, to questions posed by City Council President J.P. Morrell and Vice President Helena Moreno regarding Mayor Cantrell’s recent 2022 recap brochure which the Cantrell administration selectively sent to 106,633 “fellow New Orleanians who actively participate in our local democracy” in late January. Yet many answers are still missing.  

The glossy tri-fold brochure, entitled “Strong Leadership for a Resilient City”, highlighted Mayor Cantrell’s recent success on issues including the pandemic and infrastructure. The mail piece was paid for with public funds and cost approximately $65,000. Councilmembers Morrell and Moreno questioned whether the Administration had sought out a legal opinion from Attorney General Jeff Landry or executive approval prior to the mailer being issued.  

WWL Radio personality and former Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand posted a tweet Friday that “it looks to me and @JPMorrell like a felony has been committed by the @mayorcantrell office.” Louisiana law prohibits the use of public funds to “advertise” the name of a public official. 

“There are legitimate concerns that a felony may have been committed. It would be in the public’s best interest if the Cantrell Administration would be forthcoming on who authored and produced this obviously political mailer,” said City Council President J.P. Morrell.

“More importantly, a mail house and or printer doesn’t send a mailer to a random group of people on a whim. The client must provide the list or criteria for the mailer to identify postage costs. We will find out how this group was selected and why this mailer was sent to ‘voters engaged in the democratic process’ versus all New Orleans residents,” Morrell continued. 

The timing of the brochure was bothersome to many individuals who thought it was a response to recall efforts. The administration has refused to name the vendor who provided the printing as well as the list broker and mail processing center. They also failed to announce the source of the brochure’s funding.

City communications official Gregory Joseph admitted that Cantrell had never produced an annual report previously but said this one was needed to notify citizens about 2023 budget expenditures and where new funding from the American Rescue Plan would be spent. Recall organizers have requested that New Orleans Inspector General Ed Michel investigate the mailer.

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