Shortly after taking office in 2015, Mayor Megan Barry recommended Macy Amos – the adult daughter of her security detail Rob Forrest, with whom she would later admit to having an extensive affair – for a lucrative job withing the Nashville’s legal department.
The City’s legal department had not added any positions for a period of two years nor did they budget for such and expansion, The Tennessean reports. But after a new, entry-level job was created, Barry swiftly approved the move and recommended Amos.
No other applicant was considered, and she was hired in January 2016.
The Tennessean reports that Metro Law Department Director Jon Cooper insists the the decision to hire Amos was his and no one else’s, and notes that Amos was a highly qualified candidate with a law degree from Belmont University and previous interning experience with Mayors Bill Purcell and Karl Dean.
“The mayor did recommend Macy during a meeting I had with her at some point, as did a number of people in the legal community,” Cooper said in an email to The Tennessean, adding that she was the “logical choice” for the job.
To date, Mayor Barry has given answers that are vague and sometimes conflicting as to the specifics of when and how her inappropriate relationship with Forrest began.
For instance, The Tennessean reports Barry told the USA TODAY Network her affair began “in the spring of 2016” – which would be months after Amos was hired. However at a press conference last week, “Barry told reporters the relationship began ‘several months’ after she became mayor in September 2015.” Then, she told a television station the affair began “soon” after she took office.
So far, Barry has declined to say when it ended, only that “it’s over.”
The Tennessean continues:
Ethics experts say that whether the Mayor made the recommendation during her romantic relationship, or in its prelude, her involvement in a hiring decision may constitute a misuse of her office.
“There’s a general norm and principle that people should not use their office for private advantage, including for those you associate with,” said Richard Briffault, a professor at Columbia Law School and chair of the Conflicts of Interest Board of New York City.
“It turns on whether something is for her private advantage — what she was getting out of it. If getting something out of it would be satisfying an intimate partner, it’s a misuse of office, period.”
Barry’s recommendation of Forrest’s daughter for a city job may also have violated the ethics rules she signed when taking office.
A February 2016 executive order issued by Barry, a former ethics and compliance officer, bars city employees from “giving preferential treatment to any person,” losing “impartiality,” or “affecting adversely the confidence of the public in the integrity of Metropolitan government.”
“That’s why we place constraints on individuals, in part to constrain them from doing anything unethical and in part to retain the public trust,” Briffault said.