In a hand-delivered letter to District Attorney Glenn Funk, Jerry Martin – Nashville Mayor Megan Barry’s lawyer – asked late Thursday that Funk “revisit the issue of whether you and your office may have a conflict of interest” in the criminal investigation into possible wrongdoing surrounding the embattled Mayor’s two-year extramarital affair with her former bodyguard, retired Metro Nashville Police Sgt. Rob Forrest.
A copy of the letter was obtained by NewsChannel 5 Investigates, who report:
That request came in a letter hand-delivered to Funk on Thursday. Later that night, Barry questioned Funk’s role in the case, including what she called a politically motivated decision to publicly release a damning TBI affidavit that implied investigators may have nude photos of the mayor.
Barry’s attorney, Jerry Martin, wrote in the letter that Funk himself had raised the possibility of a conflict of interest back in early February.
“I would respectfully ask you to revisit the issue of whether you and your office may have a conflict of interest,” Martin wrote in the letter obtained by NewsChannel 5 Investigates.
“Understand that I raise this issue not only to ensure that my client gets a fair process but also to ensure that the public has confidence in the ultimate outcome.”
Martin included a legal opinion from noted ethics expert, Lucian T. Pera, a Memphis lawyer who is the current president of the Tennessee Bar Association.
Pera’s opinion notes that Funk must submit his budget requests each year to the mayor, who must then decide whether to include those requests in the budget that she submits to the Metro Council.
“In my opinion,” Pera writes, “General Funk’s official responsibility and interest in obtaining Metro funding for his office creates a conflict of interest for him in supervising or participating in an investigation of possible criminal misconduct by Mayor Barry.
Pera continues on to explain his argument that while there is no intention to imply that he will act on any bias, Funk’s impartiality may be impaired due to the Mayor role in ultimately approving his budget requests.
Late Friday, Funk responded by saying he saw no reason to change anything, and would not comment further until after the TBI completed its investigation.