Nashville Mayor Megan Barry officially announced her resignation shortly before pleading guilty to felony theft of property charges.
The resignation was proceeded by a recent scandal involving her sexual relationship with a head of security as well as persisting allegation throughout the past couple of months that she had carelessly misspent hard earned taxpayer’s money.
The resignation hits Nashville’s local Democratic establishment especially hard, considering Barry’s historical significance.
Not only was she the first female to hold the office, but she also had the largest backing of liberal voters during her campaign two and a half years ago with campaign promises of continuing to promote the city as a center for young creatives, introduce a high-end transit system and support for LGBT rights.
Much of the scandal began after the details of her affair with her previous head of security Sergeant Robert Forrest Junior, who retired this year, began coming to light. The scandal had come to the surface when a special agent for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation discovered nude photos assumed to be the mayor in Robert Forest’s email account. While both parties admitted to the affair after the Sergeant’s retirement more details surfaced about the misuse of taxpayer funds to take city-funded business trips that just included the two. Forrest has also pled guilty to the theft.
Ms. Barry read a statement at city hall to reporters where she maintained her support for her programs and stated that she was optimistic about the future of the city.
“It is a continued climb that I will watch, but I will watch as a private citizen,” she said. “And I will be tremendously proud nonetheless.”
Shortly after announcing her resignation and giving her statement, Ms. Barry proceeded across the street from city hall to the local courtroom — where she agreed to pay restitution and serve probation in exchange for her guilty plea.
The Bureau of Investigation had been looking into 26 specific out of own trips that occurred between April 2016 and the announcement of Forrest’s retirement. Documents show that Forrest and Barry where the only travelers participating on at least 10 of the trips that were under investigation. Barry’s sentence includes the reimbursement of $11,000 in expenditures she was said to have spent for Forrest’s travel. According to court documents, the restitution has already been paid. For Mr. Forrest’s guilty plea, he was ordered to pay $45,000 for the amount of time he was on the unlawful trips while being paid for employment services. He was also ordered to serve three years probation. The plea agreement also allowed both parties the possibility of having their records expunged upon successful completion of probation.
The Future of Nashville
On Tuesday afternoon the new Mayor David Briley was sworn in, and is likely to continue his predecessor’s legacy. Briley, the son of Beverly Briley (a previous Nashville mayor), continues to support the multibillion-dollar public transit system and other initiatives which enjoy liberal support. Barry was a popular mayor with city’s residents, obtaining a 72% approval rating form a Vanderbilt University poll before news of the scandal broke. In a more recent poll, that rating only dropped to 61% with most residents saying that while they can overlook the actions that went on in her personal life, they were concerned about the misuse of funds and felt her resignation was appropriate.
To help reduce the risk of the same issues happening again, the city council created a special committee that would be used to investigate trips. Councilman John Cooper said that the committee would continue the inquiry and its work to focus on the way that city expenses will be handled. Though Councilman Copper has been in frequent opposition of Barry’s policies, he feels confident that the city will get through them and continue to flourish. He was quoted as saying, “I do think that, as much of a complicated tragedy as this is as a personal story, Nashville will survive this,” Mr. Cooper said.
While the residents of Nashville feel confident that the city council will properly rectify the situation, many felt a personal sting after the city came out to show an enormous offering of support for the mayor, both during her candidacy and through her own personal tragedies.
~ Liberty Planet