Yesterday New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin lashed out at the Times-Picayune newspaper for reporting on a deal landed by his family's company to install countertops for a Central City Home Depot at the same time the store was negotiating tax breaks and other assistance from the city. He complained that the paper's stories were part of a larger pattern of coverage that was unfair to him:
"It's unfortunate that we have to continue to get to this point where minor things are being blown out of proportion," he said. "My sons have followed every rule. I told them going into the business that they couldn't do any city contracts or anything close to a city contract, and the store in question is not one of the stores they're doing business with. So, you know, it's just typical, unfortunately, of what I have to go through."
But Nagin still refused to disclose any details on his involvement in the firm, saying only that he serves as a financier and owns "less than a majority" of the company. When asked for the precise percentage, he said he's "not getting into that." Louisiana ethics laws prohibit city officials from being paid by entities that have or are seeking business or financial relationships with the city. That prohibition would be triggered if Nagin owns 25 percent or more of the firm.