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News 2 Investigates: Mayor's trip paid for by relative

4 years 3 months 3 weeks ago February 26, 2013 Feb 26, 2013 Tuesday, February 26 2013 February 26, 2013 6:01 PM in The Investigative Unit
Source: WBRZ
By: Chris Nakamoto

PORT ALLEN - Another door was closed in the face of a News 2 crew trying to ask more questions to Port Allen Mayor Deedy Slaughter regarding her trip to the President's inauguration last month.

Her trip came to light after she said she was meeting with the state's congressional delegation to bring money to Port Allen.  News 2 checked with lawmakers, and none said they had an official meeting with her.

Documents News 2 obtained today show her brother-in-law, Ralph Slaughter, paid for her flight, hotel and car rental. After returning from her trip Slaughter billed taxpayers for the expense, and four weeks later she appointed him as her chief of staff. 

Receipts News 2 received from that trip show Slaughter stayed at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City and billed taxpayers $1,273.02 for it. Included in that stay was a meal for $55.32, even though she received a per diem rate of $43 for travel that same day.  Her hotel stay was paid for using an American Express Credit Card that matched the last four digits of Ralph Slaughter's card on two other receipts.

For her flight, Slaughter flew on Southwest Airlines from New Orleans to Baltimore. She expensed $569.80 for her flight plus $10 dollars for early bird check-in both ways. The flight was also paid for with Ralph Slaughter's American Express card.

That card was also used to rent a car for $231.90 to drive from Baltimore to Washington D.C.

When News 2 caught up with Mayor Slaughter today, she wouldn't answer any questions.

"I have no comment," Slaughter said.

Former Mayor Roger Bergeron said he never used someone else's card when he traveled for city business.

"It raises the question of conflict of interest," Bergeron said.  "At the time these expenditures were made, Mr. Slaughter was certainly under consideration for a city position. In my view, you have a conflict of interest."

News 2's investigation also raised questions among Port Allen citizens. Bernard Christmas said he voted for Slaughter, but now wonders if that was the right decision. He said he isn't happy with the direction Port Allen is heading.

"I think she should go to the people, talk to them and say 'If I made a mistake, I'm sorry,'" he said. "'If I didn't make a mistake, I'm still sorry.'"

News 2 checked with people familiar with state ethics laws, who said the situation appears to be an ethics violation. A spokesperson for the state Legislative Auditor's Office earlier said if a complaint about the mayor's spending is vetted, it would send a team of workers into her office to investigate.

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