Metropolitan Nashville Davidson County Mayor Megan Barry, a rising star of the Democratic Party, came under increasing pressure to resign late Thursday as the scandal surrounding her extramarital affair with her former taxpayer funded bodyguard, recently retired Metro Nashville Police Sgt. Rob Forrest, took a salacious and potentially criminal turn.
Three weeks earlier, on January 31, Barry, who is married, admitted to conducting a two-years long extramarital affair with Forrest, also married and head of her security detail, from “shortly after” her election in September 2015 until an unspecified date shortly prior to his resignation, which came on the day of the news conference.
Barry claimed at the time the affair was a personal matter that violated no laws or ethical standards, and refused to resign.
In 2017, Barry and Forrest took nine trips alone together outside of Tennessee, all funded by the city’s taxpayers, to Athens, Greece, San Francisco, California, and Washington, DC, among other places.
In the days subsequent to Barry’s admission of the extramarital affair, numerous damaging stories came to light, and three separate investigations—one by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), another by a special committee of the Nashville Metro City Council, and a third by the Nashville Metro City Council’s Ethical Board of Conduct—were launched.
Among the new revelations reported on after Barry admitted to the affair were the following:
- Barry’s bodyguard lover, Sgt. Forrest, was paid far more overtime—$173,000 over two and a half years—than any other Metro Nashville Police Department officer on the Mayor’s security detail.
- Sgt. Forrest’s daughter, a recent graduate of Belmont Law School, was hired in Metro Nashville’s Legal Department after a strong recommendation from Mayor Barry for a job that was created specifically for her and for which no other candidates were interviewed.
- In October 2016, Mayor Barry’s Chief Operating Officer, Rich Riebeling, decided to remove authority for approval of Forrest’s travel requests with the mayor from Metro Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson and gave that approval authority to Mayor Barry’s Chief of Staff Debbie Mason without informing Chief Anderson of the decision. The city’s information technology system, however, continued to show Anderson as the approving authority until February 9 of this year, when a report on the issue by NewsChannel 5 prompted Metro Nashville’s Director of Information Technology Systems to describe the error as “a computer glitch.”
Mayor Barry’s resolve not to resign began to weaken on Thursday, sources tell Breitbart News, when local media outlets reported that a judge granted a search warrant request from the TBI for city-issued cell phones she and Sgt. Forrest used during the extramarital affair.
“The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says it has obtained nude photos of a woman taken on the phone of former Sgt. Rob Forrest, evidence that investigators believe shows Nashville Mayor Megan Barry engaged in an affair with her former bodyguard while he was on duty,” the Tennessean reported Thursday afternoon.
“Criminal Court Judge Steve Dozier approved the original search warrants for Barry and Sgt. Rob Forrest’s iPhones on Feb. 16 as part of the TBI investigation,” WSMV reported on Thursday, adding:
The warrants ask for “any and all electronic data to include recordings, images, emails, SMS messages, MMS messages, instant messages, chats, iMessages, call logs, contact lists, audio recordings, video recordings, photographs and GPS or geolocation information.”
According to the affidavit, Barry has refused to provide the passcode to her phone, prompting a second search warrant to be requested and executed on Tuesday to allow the phone to be submitted to a third-party contractor to bypass the passcode.
“According to a search warrant, TBI said Forrest used his phone to photograph a nude or partially nude female on May 15, 2017 and Oct. 18, 2017. The documents say Forrest was working during this time. Based on that information, a search warrant was issued seeking possession of Barry’s phone,” Fox 17 reported:
TBI cites a black purse in a nude photo that appears to match a black purse in other photos of Barry around the same date.
The search warrant of the mayor’s phone was conducted on Friday, Feb 16. The passcode to Barry’s phone was requested at that time and according to documents, “Megan Barry did not provide your affiant with the passcode and Attorney Jerry Martin explained that he would have to get back with me on whether they would provide the code or not.”
A TBI technician wasn’t able to examine the phone’s contents due to it being locked. Martin again declined to provide the passcode on Tuesday.
TBI said the discoveries suggest possible evidence of a crime and the documents cite Official Misconduct and Theft of Property.
“Barry’s attorney Jerry Martin said the photos were taken without Barry’s knowledge and accused the TBI of breaking from its standard procedure by not filing the warrant under seal,” the Tennessean reported:
“It’s plain from the language of the affidavit that the identity of the person in the photographs is unclear,” Martin said in a statement. “If, and that’s a big if, there are any photos of the Mayor, they were taken without her knowledge.
“The unsealing of this affidavit is deeply troubling. Typically, search warrant affidavits remain under seal during the course of the investigation. Most investigators want to keep the details of their investigation under wraps while it’s on going. What’s happening here? This isn’t standard procedure. It’s the opposite.”
On Tuesday, two days before the search warrant news broke, about 80 people attended a Resign Now! Megan Barry rally held on the steps of the Metro Nashville Davidson County Courthouse and City Hall.
“Because of Megan Barry’s reckless behavior, people’s lives and marital covenants have been damaged forever. The longer she remains in office, the longer we are left with an embarrassing situation that highlights the hypocrisy of the #Metoo movement,” former Vanderbilt professor Carol Swain said in her speech at the rally.
Nashville is now a city with an administration that lacks the moral authority needed to conduct city business without projecting an air of corruption to the outside world. It’s a leadership that’s heading in the wrong direction.
Mayor Barry cannot teach our young people anything about ethics and morality. Despite having been an ethics and compliance officer herself, who formally established high standards of conduct for other city employees, barring them from giving preferential treatment to individuals, she exempted herself from those same rules.
Mayor Barry allegedly involved other subordinates in apparently helping her hide expenses connected with her affair, where she traveled with her lover even … staying days beyond what was necessary on the city dime.
Presently, there are at least three ongoing investigations of her activities taking place. Shockingly, though, none of the major local political figures of either political party have taken a leadership role in asking Mayor Barry to step aside for the sake of the city and the integrity of government.
Although she had offered to write a check for any inappropriate expenses, that does not make the unethical, immoral behavior go away. I’m sure many embezzlers would like to write a check to make their mistakes go away.
“Mayor Barry’s affair and the surrounding circumstances represent a setback for women’s rights and equality and highlights one of the major flaws of the #Metoo movement. The movement denies men due process, but seems willing to give some women a free pass,” Swain added.
Until Thursday’s search warrant revelations, liberals appeared eager to forgive Barry.
On Sunday, the New York Times published an op-ed by Margaret Renkle defending Mayor Barry after she admitted to the extramarital affair with Forrest:
She ended her statement with a pledge: “God will forgive me, but the people of Nashville don’t have to. In the weeks and months to come, I will work hard to earn your forgiveness and earn back your trust.”
This promise did not seem like an act of damage control. This is the way Megan Barry really talks. The language of full emotional availability is her native tongue.
Perhaps that’s why this city loves her. She hugs schoolchildren. She looks genuinely joyful at city parades and festivals. She grieves that too many Nashville teenagers are slain by guns. When Max Barry, her own son and only child, died suddenly last summer, the people of Nashville wept with her. When she spoke openly about the drug addiction that killed him, we marveled at her courage and admired her resolve to bring addiction out of the shadows of shame.
Late Thursday, another breaking development came in the ongoing scandal when NewsChannel 5 reported that video showed Mayor Barry and Sgt. Forrest together in an SUV parked in a local Nashville cemetery on a number of early mornings in 2017.
As the drip, drip, drip of Barry’s scandal continues, even liberals may soon conclude her position may no longer be tenable.