DA Cannizzaro calls for Councilman Williams to recuse himself from criminal justice matters while under federal investigation
June 9, 2020
For Immediate Release

Contact: Ken Daley, Public Information

District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro on Tuesday (June 9) called upon New Orleans City Councilman Jason Williams to recuse himself from the Council’s criminal justice affairs. The DA cited the ongoing federal investigation into the defense attorney’s tax affairs, and a series of false statements Williams made last week, as evidence that Williams is ethically conflicted and unfit to continue influencing the city’s criminal justice policy and budget matters.

Williams has the “ethical obligation” to recuse himself from the Criminal Justice Committee he chairs, and from the upcoming budget process as it relates to courts and law enforcement agencies, Cannizzaro wrote in an open letter dispatched Tuesday morning to City Council members.

“As you are aware, Mr. Williams last week disclosed under questioning by The New Orleans Advocate/NOLA.com that he is under investigation by Internal Revenue Service agents for undisclosed income tax matters. He acknowledged the tax probe has expanded to involve the FBI, but has not said why,” Cannizzaro wrote.

“Mr. Williams told reporters this federal investigation has been open for at least two years, though he concealed it from the public until questioned last week. … And he has, without evidence or cause, blamed me as a potential political rival for whatever legal jeopardy he faces from the federal government. Even a law enforcement novice understands that is not the way federal authorities and investigations work.”

Cannizzaro cited a series of unsubstantiated claims Williams made last week as proof of the “paranoia, undeniable bias and an unquestionable conflict of interest” that warrants his immediate removal from the Council’s criminal justice affairs until the federal investigation is completed.

“Should Mr. Williams refuse to recuse himself from these duties in which he clearly is conflicted, I urge the Council to take the only responsible course of action and remove him from those roles,” Cannizzaro wrote.

To view the letter and attachments in its entirety, click here and then click on the letter to open.