To be clear, she's trying to relieve East New Orleans of "neglect" by putting a Christmas parade on Crowder Boulevard. And that's fine and all. I especially like the non-traditional Santa there on the poster.Nguyen, who said she understands the concern about the donation, considers the $1,500 contribution is a relatively small donation.“If it was like a $20,000 question," Nguyen said she would understand the concern. "We’re talking about $1,500 to help boost a district that’s been neglected, and they are a company in the city” that supports those goals."We were going to do this ourselves in my office with our team and we realized there was no way we could pull this parade off and deal with constituent services,” she said.
So you can see why it's a dicey matter to have Entergy underwriting the Cyndi presents Cyndi parade. Especially, as Kevin Litten points out in that NOLA.com article given the Lens's prior reporting on Entergy's relationship with Nguyen's non-profit.
Vietnamese Initiatives in Economic Training, or VIET, the nonprofit group Nguyen founded and ran, received more than $6,000 in grants and payments from Entergy as part of the company's campaign to get the plant approved.I went ahead and quoted the whole bit about LaToya's friends also being on the take from Entergy just for kicks. But, really, the broader context is worse than that. As the Lens has continued to report this week and previously, the whole of the New Orleans non-profit universe is really a network of bribes and kickbacks from which Entergy is not shy about calling in favors.
Nguyen wasn’t the only politically connected person involved in Entergy’s $530,000 public-relations campaign. Two top officials in LaToya Cantrell’s mayoral campaign were also on Entergy’s payroll.
Bill Rouselle was Cantrell’s chief strategist. Bob Tucker was her campaign chairman and served on her mayoral transition team.
Their companies billed Entergy tens of thousands of dollars to bolster public support for the plant.
According to invoices submitted to the city council as part of its investigation, Entergy paid Tucker’s company Green Pastures Unlimited $95,240 for strategic messaging from 2017 to 2018.
Rouselle’s public relations firm Bright Moments received $336,583 from 2016 to 2018. At least $166,800 of that represented hours billed by another public relations firm, The Ehrhardt Group, which was a subcontractor.
To avoid a $5 million fine from the city, Entergy New Orleans is recycling a tactic they used in the campaign that led to the potential sanction: leveraging their donations to lobby the City Council.So maybe Nguyen is just the one haggling over the price, but she's far from the only person or entity for sale around here.
Communications obtained by The Lens show that in response to the possible fine — over the use of paid actors who appeared at public meetings to support a proposed power plant — several beneficiaries of Entergy’s charitable giving sent letters supporting the company to New Orleans City Council members. At least two of the authors were directly asked to write the letters by an Entergy employee who oversees the company’s charitable giving.