Did New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin spend public dollars to spirit his wife and kids away to tropical paradises? A Louisiana ethics panel wants to know.
According to a formal complaint filed against the mayor on Wednesday by Raphael Goyeneche of the New Orleans Metropolitan Crime Commission, one of those dreamlike getaways was a first-class jaunt to Jamaica in 2005, during the time that the Big Easy was trying to recover from Killer Katrina. Goyeneche contends that the round-trip excursions to Jamaica and Hawaii, the year before, cost more than $6,000 and was paid for by Nagin’s former IT director, Greg Meffert. Nagin also allegedly took a trip to Chicago with his wife for a fundraiser in May 2006.
"There's no trip with Meffert," Nagin told WDSU anchor Norman Robinson on Tuesday. "There's no evidence that I took trips and used tickets he bought."
On Wednesday, he added, "Now they're saying [Meffert] paid for a Jamaican trip," he said. "That's tough for me to recall that, because that was right after Katrina. The November after Hurricane Katrina – everything for me is a blur. So I'm going to stick to my testimony and what I have in the affidavit."
Nagin said he doesn't think he did anything wrong. Meffert said in a sworn statement Netmethods, a company owned by Mark St. Pierre, paid for the trip. St. Pierre ran another company that had a contract with New Orleans.
"Yes, Mr. St. Pierre owned a company and, yes, Meffert got money from them," attorney Randy Smith said. "But at the end of the day, there were no wrongdoings."