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Suspicions continue to swirl around New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, who faces accusations of not only misusing taxpayer funds but also having an extramarital affair with a recently divorced NOPD Officer Jeffrey Vappie, a cop often tasked with providing security for the politician.
The FBI has been investigating Cantrell, and at the center of its probe is the city-owned Upper Pontalba apartment where the two have been seen together while Vappie was off duty.
Local news outlet Fox 8 Live reports it has been told by sources with knowledge of interviews conducted by federal investigators that FBI agents have recently been asking questions about Cantrell and Vappie’s relationship and the time they spent together in the apartment.
The New Orleans City Council has subsequently prohibited Cantrell and any future mayors from utilizing the apartment.
Vappie’s wife filed for divorce after news reports implying her husband’s possible infidelity with the mayor started to emerge. Some reports say that the two were seen partying together in Los Angeles and as far away as Scotland.
In court documents, Vappie’s wife said he admitted he was having an affair with a “Mrs. L.C.,” which many believe is Cantrell. However, both the officer and the mayor have denied the allegations, insisting their relationship is “professional.”
The most recent review was launched by Fox 8, which requested all invoices, receipts, and travel reimbursements for Cantrell and all members of her traveling party to Dubai. The documents were released by the city on Jan. 18, showing the expenditure amounting to $15,000, with the majority of those resources going to Vappie’s travel.
The purpose of Cantrell’s December 2023 trip was to attend a climate action conference organized by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. During the conference, Cantrell, the first woman elected mayor of New Orleans, addressed Louisiana’s coastal restoration initiatives and proposed enhancements to the city’s drainage system.
Cantrell’s first-class roundtrip and hotel stay cost over $24,000, but the Conference of Mayors covered those. The city covered $1,300 of Cantrell’s spending money, while $14,000 for Vappie’s travel expenses (economy airfare, hotel fees, and per diem) was also paid by New Orleans taxpayers, per Fox 8.
Cantrell has previously made headlines for her expenditures on security and maintains that the funds allocated to safeguard her are indispensable expenses for her administration.
In late 2022, after the city attorney and chief administrative officer discovered that she had breached a policy prohibiting the use of first-class flights at public expense in most situations.
Cantrell faced criticism for expending tens of thousands of dollars from the city’s funds on first-class travel to France and Switzerland.
During a September 2022 press conference, she defended her choice by asserting that she couldn’t opt for economy class, citing concerns about the safety of Black women on certain commercial flights.
“All expenses incurred doing business on behalf of the city of New Orleans will not be reimbursed to the city of New Orleans. One thing is clear: I do my job,” she said.
The following month, Cantrell repaid the city for the $29,000 she spent on her travels to the European countries.