Jefferson Parish Council calls on Mike Yenni to resign


JEFFERSON PARISH, La. (WGNO) – The Jefferson Parish Council is calling for Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni’s resignation after he admitted to sending explicit text messages to a teenage boy in 2015.

“The parish president is one of Jefferson Parish’s highest and most public positions,” Councilwoman Cynthia Lee-Sheng, Councilman Ricky Templet and Councilman Chris Roberts said in a letter addressed to Yenni. “We believe the multiple inquiries of these matters will be a distraction to managing the important affairs of our parish and prevent you from performing your duties …”

News broke more than a week ago that the FBI was investigating the text messages. The 17-year-old boy caught the eye of Yenni at a Jesuit High School function while Yenni was still the mayor of Kenner.  Yenni even reportedly offered the 17-year-old boy a job in his office so they could be closer. Although Yenni broke no state laws because 17 is the age of consent in Louisiana, there is a federal law that prohibits sending explicit text messages to anyone under 18.

“We are also deeply concerned about allegations … that you offered the high school boy an assistant or secretary position in your administration so that you could be with him and not be questioned. You still have not responded to this allegation,” the letter states.

The remaining four Jefferson Parish Council members – Mark Spears, E. Ben Zahn III, Paul Johnston and Jennifer Van Vrancken – sent a similar letter calling for Yenni to leave office.

Yenni, a U.S. Navy Reserve lieutenant who was deployed at 6 a.m. Thursday to assist with Hurricane Matthew relief, admitted to the allegations in a commercial he bought that aired during 10 p.m. local newscasts Thursday. See the video below.

Civic groups and business leaders also called for the parish president’s resignation at Wednesday’s Jefferson Parish Council meeting.

“If you remain in office, the consequences of your poor judgment will negatively impact your ability to effectively govern as already evidenced by your absence at our last council meeting,” the letter states. “The stigma surrounding these matters will inhibit your ability to attend civic and public meetings as well as an inevitable reluctance by schools to invite you to their campus and their school functions.”

Yenni said in the video that he “made a bad decision,” and that he “will work every day to prove that good people can rise from a bad decision.”