Despite claiming that her adulterous affair with a subordinate Metro employee and head of her security detail, Sgt. Robert Forrest, Jr, was a personal matter, Mayor Megan Barry’ very public admission of the affair has generated intense scrutiny of trips Barry says were for city-related business but were also trips on which she and Sgt. Forrest traveled alone together and which provided opportunities to pursue their affair.
In her first admission to the adultery, the Mayor claimed that throughout her two year affair with Forrest, nothing illegal occurred and no policies were violated.
Since making those claims, however, at the request of Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has opened an investigation to determine whether during the course of the Mayor’s affair any criminal laws were broken, including “misappropriation of public funds and official misconduct.”
If it is determined that public funds were used for personal benefit or other unauthorized purposes, it may constitute a misappropriation of funds. Metro Code of Ordinances dictates specific “Standards of Conduct” for all Metro employees that could apply as well.
Mayor Barry insists that her “personal time” with Sgt. Forrest during these trips did not occur while they were “on the clock” but it remains to be seen how the Mayor will be able to prove this claim without providing more detail in light of the fact that presumably, security is on detail 24/7 in order to respond as needed and that public money paid for trips that according to the Mayor, provided opportunities for the Mayor and Sgt. Forrest to continue their affair.
Particular attention is being paid to at least nine trips where the Mayor and Sgt. Forrest were the only Metro employees traveling and which involved the use of public funds. One of these trips was a seven day trip to Athens, Greece.
The Mayor has said that the decision to attach a security detail to the Mayor’s office was made by a Metro Police Department policy, but according to Metro Police Chief Anderson, once the security detail is assigned to the Mayor’s office, that person “take[s] their direction from the mayor or the mayor’s staff” although it is not clear who in the Mayor’s office made the decision to assign Sgt. Forrest to the trips taken with just himself and the Mayor.
Approval of payment for Forrest’s hours and any overtime worked were made by the police department.
Travel records from January 2017 through January 2018, and travel expenses for the same period of time released by the Mayor’s office show the Mayor and Sgt. Forrest traveling to Athens, Greece on September 12, 2017 and returning on September 18, 2017, dates within the timeframe provided by the Mayor for the affair’s duration.
Expenses noted for Sgt. Forrest for these travel dates paid for by Metro Nashville/Davidson County include $2,030.96 for airfare and $1,155.00 for lodging at Pallas Athena, a “luxury art boutique” located in downtown Athens. The trip’s purpose is listed as the Athens Democracy Forum and the 100 Resilient City Leaders Advisory Committee Meeting.
You can see the Mayor’s Office statement of 2017 Travel Expenses for Forrest and Mayor Barry here:Travel Expenses
That statement of expenses shows that Metro Nashville/Davidson County paid no airfare or lodging expense for Mayor Barry for the trip she and Sgt. Forrest took together to Greece between September 12 and September 18.
The Tennessee Star asked Sean Braisted, the Mayor’s Director of Communications “who paid for her travel to Greece, lodgings there and if there were any fees associated with the conference?” Braisted confirmed that “Mayor Barry’s travel and lodging expenses were paid for by 100RC, any other costs she paid for out of pocket.”
Braisted also informed The Star that due to the large volume of requests for information, all further requests will have to go through the Metro Clerk as public records requests. This change will likely delay the release of additional information to the public.
100 Resilient Cities is a project funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, whose stated purpose is to support “the adoption and incorporation of a view of resilience that includes not just the shocks—earthquakes, fires, floods, etc.—but also the stresses that weaken the fabric of a city on a day to day or cyclical basis. Examples of these stresses include high unemployment; an overtaxed or inefficient public transportation system; endemic violence; or chronic food and water shortages.” (emphasis added)
The full name of the second event Mayor Barry attended while in Athens is The New York Times Athens Democracy Forum. That event’s three major “Headline Sponsors” for the 2017 forum were George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, Google, and the Seykra Group, a Czech real estate development firm.
Mayor Barry’s last official act took place on the morning of September 15 in Athens. Her official calendar, released by the Mayor’s Office, showed that it was clear for the evening of Friday, September 15, as well as all day Saturday, September 16 and all day Sunday, September 17. She and Sgt. Forrest returned to Nashville on a flight that left Athens early Monday morning, September 18.
You can see Mayor Barry’s official agenda for the four days from September 15 to September 18 here:
A review of the press releases issued by the Mayor’s Offices for calendar 2017 show that no official statement concerning her trip to Athens was made at all in that full year, either before or after the September trip.