NEW ORLEANS – After a commercial Thursday finally addressed allegations against Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni, some councilmembers are calling for him to step down.
Yenni’s statement comes after WWL-TV broke an investigation stating the FBI was looking into the former Kenner mayor’s sexually explicit texts last summer with a young man who was 17 years old.
In the ad, which WWL agreed to air free of charge, 40-year-old Yenni looks straight into the camera and admits sending improper texts.
“I chose to send an improper text to a young man,” Yenni said in the ad. “I won't go into details out of respect for the rights and privacy of all parties. I made a bad decision. I regret my actions.”
The details exposed in the WWL-TV investigation, which Yenni doesn’t go into, include him allegedly asking the teen to model underwear Yenni bought for him, seeking 3-way sex and asking to perform sex acts on the teen.
In Thursday’s ad, Yenni admits he embarrassed his family and the people of Jefferson Parish.
“I apologize to the families involved and anyone who I embarrassed, especially my family and the people of Jefferson,” said Yenni.
WWL-TV spoke with the teen's family after they saw Yenni's commercial. They said they never received any apology from the parish president.
Yenni contends he never misused or abused his official powers, then suggests he will not resign.
“Now I will work every day to prove that good people can rise from a bad decision,” he said.
That statement didn't sit well with Jefferson's two parish-wide council members, Cynthia Lee Sheng and Chris Roberts. After seeing the commercial, they confirmed to WWL-TV they and other members of the council will formally call for Yenni's immediate resignation on Friday.
The commercial didn't impress political commentators either. After our partners at The New Orleans Advocate posted a copy of Yenni's message Thursday afternoon, NOLA.com called for Yenni's resignation. So did Gambit Political Editor Clancy DuBos.
“I don't understand either the political, or the legal or the PR strategy behind admitting it and saying I'm going to stay in office. It doesn't work on any level,” said DuBos.
Yenni turned down WWL-TV’s repeated requests for interviews over the last four months, before we aired the initial story September 29. He then decided not to show up at a council meeting Wednesday to face angry citizens.
Now, he has released a pre-taped video just after announcing he has been deployed to the east coast with the Navy Reserves for more than a week in response to Hurricane Matthew.
“Clearly he did not own up to all of the details that you addressed in (the) story,” said DuBos. “But when he says he's smart enough to put his past behind him, if he was really smart, he wouldn't have engaged in this kind of behavior to begin with.”