DA asks TBI to investigate Nashville mayor’s spending

Megan Barry (AP Photo/ Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Attorneys in Nashville have asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to look into possible misappropriation of funds in connection to the recently revealed affair between Mayor Megan Barry and her head of security.

Barry said she will cooperate with agents moving forward.

On Wednesday night, she said nothing illegal happened and no policies were violated. Her office released records of her text messages, calendar and travel expenses and records, and Barry said she will be transparent in cooperating with possible investigations.

She said the affair with Sgt. Rob Forrest began several months after she came into her administration. She said it was discovered through conversations between their two spouses and personal conversations. She would not say when the affair ended, only saying that it’s over.

The controversy is over Barry’s travel with Forrest and if taxpayer dollars were used to pay for “personal time”.

CBS affiliate WTVF obtained the travel records and discovered during 2017 alone, the two traveled to Washington, D.C., Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Denver and New York. They even went to Paris and Greece, all on the taxpayer’s dime.

In all, the 2017 travel expenses cost more than $33,000.

Barry told CBS affiliate WTVF she did not misuse taxpayer funds, adding that the police department requires her to have protection when she’s on duty.

“They say I have to travel with security,” she said.

The police department confirmed that stance to the news outlet.

In the three years prior to Barry’s election win, Forrest – who retired unexpectedly this week after more than 30 years on the force – averaged $34,000 a year in overtime pay. In 2015, that number increased to $60,000 and then to $75,000 the next year.

The police department said the overtime pay reflects the mayor’s daunting schedule.

The news of an investigation comes just days after Barry admitted to the affair and apologized publicly.

“I accept full responsibility for the pain I have caused my family and his. I am so sorry to my husband Bruce, who has stood by me in my darkest moments and remains committed to our marriage, just as I am committed to repairing the damage I have done,” Barry said in a statement posted Wednesday to Nashville’s city website.

“I also must apologize to the people of Nashville who elected me to serve as your mayor. I knew my actions could cause damage to my office and the ones I loved, but I did it anyway. I must hold myself to the highest standard of which the voters deserve to expect. Please know that I’m disappointed in myself but also understand that I’m a human and that I made a mistake,” the statement continued.

During a news conference Wednesday evening, Barry said the relationship was “over,” but did not say when the relationship ended.

Barry told The Tennessean newspaper she won’t be resigning from office over the matter.

In his own news release Wednesday, Forrest said he never violated his oath as a police officer or engaged in actions that would abuse the public trust. The retired officer asked for privacy as he seeks to rebuild the trust of those he loves the most.

“I deeply regret that my professional relationship with Mayor Barry turned into a personal one,” Forrest said in the release. “This has caused great pain for my wife, my family, friends and colleagues.”