Nashville Mayor Megan Barry’s admission to adultery with Sgt. Robert Forrest, head of her security detail, has already raised questions about whether public funds provided opportunities facilitating the affair when the two traveled alone together in furtherance of city business. According to Police Chief Anderson, Sgt. Forrest’s schedule and hours were dictated by the Mayor’s office. If it is determined that public funds were used for personal benefit or other unauthorized purposes, it may constitute a misappropriation of funds.
Confirmation by the Mayor’s office that she accepted payment by 100 Resilient Cities (100RC), a project funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, for travel and lodging expenses for her trip to Greece may cause an ethical violation for the Mayor separate and apart from the fact that Sgt. Forrest’s costs for the Greece trip were paid for with public funds while their affair was ongoing.
“Mayor Barry’s travel and lodging expenses were paid for by 100RC, any other costs she paid for out of pocket,” the Mayor’s Director of Communications Sean Braisted told The Tennessee Star in a story published on Monday morning.
In 2016, Mayor Barry issued Executive Order 005, Financial and other disclosures by certain Metropolitan Government employees and officials; ethics, conflict of interest, and acceptance of gifts on the part of employees of Metropolitan Government. The EO incorporates by reference Metro’s Code of Laws Section 2.222 governing the “Standards of Conduct” for all Metro employees. The EO also states that its provisions apply to the Mayor and employees in the Mayor’s office.
Section 2.222.020(s) states specifically that in addition to other items of value, “if related in any way, directly or indirectly to being [a Metro] employee,” acceptance of meals and “travel expenses from any single source of an aggregate value in excess of one hundred dollars” is not allowed.
Executive Order 005 also directs that “when an employee is in doubt as to the proper interpretation of this order, he or she is expected to seek the advice of the applicable Department Head or the Director of Law if time permits, or to use good judgment in accordance with (1) above and to report the gift, entertainment or favor to the Department Head or the Director of Law within seven (7) days.”
The reference to “(1) above” includes the EO’s cross reference to Metro Code of Law Section 2.222.020 and the admonishment that Metro employees “shall avoid any action”…”affecting adversely the confidence of the public in the integrity of the Metropolitan Government.”
The Star asked Sean Braisted, the Mayor’s Director of Communications, “did the Mayor submit a request to any Department Head or the Metro Law Director with regard to whether accepting the payment of her airfare and lodging in Greece violated her EO#005 and/or Metro Code 2.222.020s?”
Braisted did not answer this question prior to The Star’s publication deadline.
The Mayor’s Office statement of 2017 Travel Expenses for the trip to Greece taken by herself and Sgt.Forrest shows that Metro Nashville/Davidson County paid expenses for Sgt. Forrest of $2,030.96 for airfare and $1,155.00 for lodging at Pallas Athena, a “luxury art boutique” located in downtown Athens.
The September 15 100RC Athens meeting listed on Mayor Barry’s official agenda was the Rockefeller Foundation funded “100 Resilient Cities” first convening of its Global City Leader Advisory Committee. Including Mayor Barry, only 5 of the committee’s 11 advisory members attended the Athens meeting, which was “focus[d] on how cities and regions can best respond to massive urbanization, climate change, and globalization.”
Shortly before the “100 Resilient Cities Advisory Committee” was launched, but after President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, Mayor Barry, issued a statement committing the city of Nashville to the goals of the climate agreement:
The United States of America should be a global leader in addressing the dire impact of climate change on our civilization, and it is very disappointing that President Trump does not see that. As a member of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, I am committed to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, and working with corporations and citizens to do the same, even if the President is not. There’s too much at stake for cities not to lead on this issue, and Nashville will.
The Mayor’s commitment to “meeting the goals of the Paris [climate] Agreement” aligns with the “City Resilience Framework” and is supported by the president of 100 Resilient Cities and other 100RC city members.
The tethering of Nashville to the Rockefeller Foundation began when Karl Dean was Mayor of Nashville and Davison County. In 2013, the Rockefeller Foundation gave Nashville and three other cities a total of $1.2 million dollars in grants to promote bus rapid transit systems as part of the foundation’s goal to “transform cities.”
Mayor Barry reinforced the city’s dependence on the Rockefeller Foundation by accepting direct funding for chief resilience officer, Erik Cole with which to staff her new “Office of Resilience.”
The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100RC meeting attended by Mayor Barry was held “within the framework of the 5th Athens Democracy Forum,” a 5 day event organized by the New York Times, the United Nations Democracy Fund, the City of Athens and a Greek newspaper. The event was sponsored in part by George Soros’ Open Society Foundations.
The Mayor’s official agenda for her Greece trip shows her scheduled on September 14th to attend some part of the Democracy Forum.
According to the Mayor’s official calendar released by her office subsequent to her admission of adultery, her last official act during her time in Greece took place on the morning of September 15 in Athens. Her official calendar shows nothing scheduled 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.
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.