City Workers Told To Take Part In Democratic Event
NEW ORLEANS -- Republican leaders are crying foul over a New Orleans official's e-mail to city workers that encourages them to participate in a Democratic campaign event. A City Hall representative said all of that is true and the city is doing nothing wrong.
Outside New Orleans City Hall, the signs are up to inform people about where to go for early voting.
Anticipating a high voter turnout, state Democratic Party leaders are holding a statewide bus tour trying to rally support for Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.
"Sen. Obama will bring the change we need to Louisiana," an e-mail sent out by the party said.
Mayor Ray Nagin's director of public avocacy, Clarice Kirkland, sent an e-mail on Monday morning, using a taxpayer-funded e-mail account, asking for City Hall workers to volunteer for the rally.
"It sure doesn't pass the smell test," said former New Orleans City Councilman Jay Batt, who now heads up the Orleans Parish Republican Party.
"When you work at City Hall, it's for the taxpayers, not the Democrats or the Republicans, but for the taxpayers, the people," Batt said.
Louisiana GOP leader Roger Villere agreed: "I think it is shady or illegal in a way and it's using public resources, public money, public time, a public building and a public email system for something that's partisan politics."
James Ross, a City Hall spokesman said that's not true: "The employee sent the information to recruit unclassified employees. All employees involved have been counseled by their supervisors and reminded about the inappropriate use of public equipment."
"I don't buy that," said Villere.
"I would have Inspector General Bob Cerasoli take a look at this," said Batt.
Some state Democrats said the e-mail is pushing the envelope.
"We have so much to lose when it comes to federal dollars, I wouldn't want any City Hall workers to rally a group for either presidential candidate," said state Rep. Walker Hines, D-District 95.
The mayor was a Democratic delegate representing louisiana at the Democratic National Conference in Denver, and every member of the New Orleans City Council is a Democrat snip