NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nashville Mayor Megan Barry believes she and the former head of her security detail never attempted to use taxpayer dollars to support their extramarital affair, a spokesman said Monday.
After revealing last week that she had an affair with Sgt. Robert Forrest, Barry’s office produced more travel records and further responded to scrutiny about her trips in a statement Monday. The affair began several months after Barry assumed office in September 2015 and it’s now over, she said, though she has sidestepped questions about how long it lasted.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is looking into any potential violations of criminal law, with focuses on misappropriation of public funds and official misconduct. Nashville’s city council is also considering forming an investigative committee with subpoena power.
In a news release Monday, spokesman Sean Braisted said Barry stayed an extra night or two in cities where she traveled for official business on a handful of occasions, and covered the hotel herself or stayed with family.
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Nashville taxpayer dollars were used for Sgt. Robert Forrest to stay those extra nights in a separate hotel room because Barry’s official schedule would soon resume in that city, Braisted said.
On four nights of that variety from 2017, Forrest didn’t record on-duty hours that would’ve resulted in pay or overtime, Braisted said.
“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,” Braisted said. “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.”
According to the mayor’s office, those extra nights before or after official business trips include:
— Arriving on a Sunday in San Francisco for a conference that started Tuesday after Memorial Day. She paid for her own hotel room for the extra night.
— In Athens, Greece, a conference in September ended on a Saturday, and the Rockefeller Foundation covered her hotel stay through Saturday night, though she didn’t have official business planned that day. She stayed an extra day, paid for the hotel night herself and flew back Monday.
— After official business in Kansas City in late August until early September to see its transit and soccer facilities, Barry stayed with her mother in Overland Park, Kansas, to attend a memorial service the next day for her son, who died of a drug overdose in July. Barry paid for her flight.
“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,” Braisted added.
The mayor’s office outlined $39,200 in travel expenses for her and Forrest from January 2016 until October 2017, with the vast majority from 2017.
The office didn’t identify any days from 2015 or 2016 travel in which Barry stayed longer than necessary for her official duties.
Forrest said on Jan. 17 that he would retire Jan. 31 after 31-plus years with Metro Nashville Police. He spent 14 years of that tenure supervising the mayor’s security detail over three administrations.
Metro Nashville Police records show that Forrest’s overtime more than doubled from $35,747 in the 2014-15 budget year to $75,462 in 2016-17. Barry was elected in September 2015.
Barry has said her schedule has been very aggressive since taking office, adding that many U.S. mayors travel with a security detail.
She has apologized for her actions, but has contended that nothing illegal happened and no policies were violated.