NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – After Mayor Megan Barry admitted her affair last week, questions began swirling about her travel schedule and that of Sgt. Robert Forrest, who was the head of her security detail when the two began an extramarital affair just a few months after she took office in September 2015.
Her office publicized her travel schedule and expenses when the affair became public last Wednesday, but the dates began in January 2017, calling into question if any taxpayer money was improperly used at any time during their relationship. Forrest’s overtime pay, which rose by tens of thousands of dollars since Barry took office, was also called into question.
In response, on Monday, the mayor’s office released not only a detailed statement “outlining facts and information as best we know at this time,” but also a travel schedule and expense report dating back to when Barry took office.
“We wanted to get the information out as quickly as possible but also as accurately as possible, and that has taken some time,” the mayor’s office said.
“We have been compiling expense reports, receipts, schedules, and other documents that will provide more information to those who want to know whether any taxpayer funds were used in relation to this affair,” the statement continued.
It went on to list explain specific trips and details specifically called into question once the bombshell affair was dropped.
What the records show is this:
Mayor Barry has never sought reimbursement for meals or other expenses related to travel. She has never sought to financially benefit from any of the travel she has taken on behalf of the city. We believe that at no time did Mayor Barry or Sgt. Forrest ever attempt to use taxpayer dollars to support their extramarital affair.
Some of Mayor Barry’s trips were paid for by organizations or foundations that requested her attendance. Any other hotel expense or airfare paid for by Metro was for official business on behalf of the city of Nashville booked through the normal scheduling process.
On most of the Mayor’s travel, she was with an assigned security detail. Nashville is one of the 25 largest cities in the United States of America, and many mayors throughout the country travel with security detail. Whether for a domestic or an international trip, the protective detail is responsible for advancing the Mayor at meetings and events, understanding security protocols and safe entrances and exits, and ensuring that the Mayor is able to travel safely and keep to the schedule of events. In domestic airports, the protective detail goes through the TSA U-FAN program in order to quickly move through security checkpoints while being armed.
There were a handful of occasions when Mayor Barry stayed an extra day or two in a city where she traveled. That isn’t unusual; in fact, our tourism industry thrives on people who spend an extra day or two outside of a conference to experience a new city.
In those few cases, Mayor Barry paid for her own hotel rooms out of personal funds or stayed with family.
On those few occasions, Sgt. Forrest, in his capacity as the head of her security detail, also stayed those extra nights in a separate hotel room – which were paid for by Metro – because the official schedule would soon resume in that city.
Those total four nights in 2017, and on each of those nights, Sgt. Forrest did not record on-duty hours that would have resulted in pay or overtime.
The trips being questioned by the media are her trips to San Francisco for the NewDEAL Ideas Summit in May of 2017, her trip to Kansas City to tour soccer and transit facilities and speak with the Mayor of Kansas City concerning that city’s experiences with these projects, and a trip to Athens, Greece, as a member of the 100 Resilient Cities.
In San Francisco, Mayor Barry arrived on Sunday for a conference that started on Tuesday after Memorial Day. She traveled early so that she wouldn’t have to travel on Memorial Day and would have time to prepare in advance for the conference. She paid for her own hotel room in San Francisco for the extra night.
In Athens, the 100RC conference ended on Saturday, and her hotel charges were covered by the Rockefeller Foundation through Saturday night, though she did not have any official business scheduled on that day. She chose to stay one extra day – Sunday – before flying back on Monday. That extra night was funded by her own personal funds, not Metro.
In Kansas City, Mayor Barry stayed with her mother in Overland Park, Kansas, following official business on Friday; she had a private family memorial service for her son, Max, with family in Kansas on Saturday. That flight was paid for out of personal funds.
On those four nights without business, Sgt. Forrest had a hotel room paid for by Metro because he needed to be available on a following day for travel. While Mayor Barry paid for her own rooms, or stayed with family, Sgt. Forrest’s rooms were a legitimate business expense because of his need to help facilitate travel for the Mayor on her return home.
We are also releasing travel schedules from 2015 and 2016.
You will see a security detail traveled sporadically with Mayor Barry until mid-to-late 2016. This was based on the recommendations of the Police Department that Mayor Barry have police detail on all official business trips, increases in terrorist attacks and mass shootings both domestic and international, and because we had an opportunity to learn what worked best in terms of logistics for travel.
We have not identified any days during this time period in which the Mayor stayed more than necessary for her official duties.
To the best of our knowledge, Sgt. Forrest has not claimed overtime or other expenses beyond what was required of him in his official capacities.
Mayor Barry’s travel was a reflection of our city’s growing prominence on a national and international stage and her desire to learn more from other Mayors and leaders on how best to implement policies and practices that would meet the needs of the people of Nashville. Sgt. Forrest’s travel was a reflection of his role as the head of the Mayor’s security detail and the person primarily responsible for the Mayor’s safety and security.
As the Mayor has acknowledged, it was inappropriate to start and continue this relationship, but we believe that any and all expenses incurred by either Sgt. Forrest or Mayor Barry were in the course of normal business.
We will continue to be releasing documents as they become available, and will do our best to answer questions in a timely fashion; however, we will wait to gather as many facts as necessary before commenting in the interest of accuracy.
Fallout has continued since the affair was announced, most seriously with the District Attorney General saying he asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to look into whether or not Mayor Barry and/or others, including Forrest, violated any criminal law.
Metro-Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson has also spoken publicly, supporting the mayor and also detailing how his employees’ overtime is handled and who schedules the mayor’s detail.
Concerns were also raised about the future of Nashville’s transit plan. While some council members were hopeful the entire Metro Council would still approve the plan to head to the ballot, there was worry the public may lose trust to vote against it.Click here for complete coverage of Nashville Mayor Megan Barry. Previous Stories:
- Head of Mayor Megan Barry’s security detail retires
- Mayor Megan Barry admits affair with former head of security
- Questions surround Mayor Barry’s travel schedule after affair admission
- DA Funk asks TBI to look into whether Mayor Barry violated criminal law
- Metro police chief speaks after mayor’s bombshell affair admission
- Mayor Barry’s attorney: Allegations of other relationships are ‘patently false’
- ‘We love our mayor’ billboards pop up in Nashville