No Recusal Of New Orleans Judges In Probe Of Mayor-Elect

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A judge in New Orleans refused Friday to remove herself or other state judges in the city from matters involving an investigation into Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell's use of a city credit card.

Cantrell is a City Council member who will succeed Mitch Landrieu as mayor next spring after winning the November runoff election. The campaign of her opponent, Desiree Charbonnet, accused her of misusing her city credit card for personal and political expenses, noting that she had reimbursed the city for $9,000 in expenses.

The Charbonnet campaign said the reimbursement amounted to an admission of improper credit card usage, but Cantrell argued that the reimbursement showed she was eager to make sure public money wasn't used for her personal spending.

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The issue didn't seem to hurt Cantrell, a Democrat who won the mayor's race with 60 percent of the vote. But Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry is investigating the issue.

Landry's office sought recusal of criminal court judges in New Orleans. Cantrell's lawyer, Billy Gibbens, opposed the move.

Judge Laurie White on Friday denied the recusal motion. Landry issued a statement later saying he would appeal.

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An anonymous criminal complaint was filed against Cantrell in late October. Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, who had endorsed Charbonnet in the mayor's race, forwarded the complaint to Landry's office.

White also unsealed filings in the case after hearing arguments from a lawyer for The New Orleans Advocate. The unsealed filings included a motion by Cantrell's lawyer, Billy Gibbens, to quash a subpoena for her personal financial records.

White set a Jan. 3 hearing on that motion.

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