NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — The New Orleans City Council grilled members of Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s administration about flyers, touting the mayor’s achievements that were mailed out during the recall effort.

The council has subpoenaed some of the mayor’s communication team to find out if they broke city and state laws.

Testimony during Thursday’s governmental affairs committee meeting lasted almost three hours as council members tried to figure out the origin of the Cantrell mailer campaign that was paid for by taxpayers.

Gregory Joseph, Cantrell’s communication director, insisted the flyers that were sent out earlier this year were not political in nature and were not a response to mayoral recall efforts.

“I’m here to tell you that from my position, as the director of communication for our office, that I never, ever, ever, ever considered the recall to be a threat,” Joseph said.

Following Joseph’s testimony, New Orleans Chief Procurement Officer Julien Meyer contradicted him when asked about the city’s contract with Mercury Public Affairs, the company that assisted with the mailers.

Councilwoman Lesli Harris asked, “Did anyone describe to you the purpose of the consultant?” Meyer responded, “I was just told it’s in the context of the recall.”

Some council members believed Meyer’s admission was a smoking gun.

“The fact that you have the procurement office saying that the purpose to discuss what was happening with the mailer was in the context of the recall, that’s what was said, and there was an audible gasp in the audience as that came out,” Councilman Joseph Giarrusso said.

Councilmembers are also alleging the city violated procurement rules.

“The fact that there was an ongoing effort that was detailed to split a contract that should have been publicly bid into two separate fake contracts,” Council President JP Morrell said. “This is tremendously problematic.”

According to Joseph, Meyer said he could do two separate contacts, one of $15,000 in 2022 and the other for $15,000 in 2023. Meyer said he gave that advice without context.

Another member of Cantrell’s communications team, Lesley Thomas, will appear before council on Tuesday.

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