Nashville Mayor Megan Barry’s extramarital affair with a police sergeant who was providing security for her is prompting probes by a special city council committee, as well as the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation into possible misuse of taxpayer money, which is a crime under state law. Other agencies might also look into any alleged violations that may have occurred.
A local activist group has already filed an ethics complaint against the mayor for a possible conflict of interest when it comes to matters involving the Metro-Nashville Police Department and officer-involved shootings, Nashville’s WKRN reported.
Mayor Barry, a Democrat, has declared that she won’t step down, although there have been calls for her to do so, adding that she will cooperate with the investigations.
The mayor has insisted that there is no wrongdoing involved in terms of public funds. Sgt. Robert Forrest, who is also married, announced his retirement from the Nashville PD after 31 years on the same day that Mayor Barry publicly acknowledged their romantic relationship.
The officer racked up thousands of dollars in overtime while he headed the mayor’s security detail, which reportedly included nine or 10 trips out of state or out of the country when it was just the two of them traveling on official business. As far as the time line, the mayor says the affair began within a few months of her taking office in late September, 2015, but was vague as to when it ended.
Absent evidence of criminal violations, the police department has not launched its own investigation.
“The mayor’s office insists that the uptick in trips has nothing to do with Barry and Forrest’s relationship, but was simply coincidental as it timed with a recommendation from MNPD Chief Steve Anderson to change Barry’s security protocol,” the Nashville Patch claimed.
Some in the community are wondering, however, why a security detail was necessary for the mayor in the first place. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Megan Barry, 54, in fact, traveled without security during the time frame from her inauguration as Nashville mayor to June, 2016.
Within a few months of becoming mayor, Barry recommended Sgt. Forrest’s daughter for an unbudgeted job with the city’s legal department, for which no other candidate was interviewed, the Tennessean disclosed.
The same news outlet also reported that Barry used about $1,300 in campaign funds to underwrite Sgt. Forrest’s travel expenses to attend the Democratic National Convention along with her in July, 2016.
In the news conference (see video embedded below) during which she admitted to the affair with the police bodyguard, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry apologized to her constituents and both families involved and acknowledged that she made a serious mistake. It also appeared, however, that she came equipped with several talking points which she repeated over and over.
Separately, in mentioning that this “was not her worst day,” the mayor may have been alluding to the tragic death of her son by a drug overdose in July, 2017.
As the scandal involving Nashville Mayor Megan Barry and the related investigations into possible improper use of taxpayer money collectively constitutes a developing story, please check back for updates.