Panel investigating Nashville mayor over use of DNC funds for travel of bodyguard with whom she had affair

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is looking into alleged office misconduct by embattled Nashville Mayor Megan Barry after reports surfaced that she used campaign funds to pay travel expenses for the bodyguard with whom she was having an affair.

Barry’s spokesman, Sean Braisted, released a statement on Thursday which said that the mayor paid the head of her security, Sgt. Rob Forrest, more than $1,200 in campaign funds for traveling with her during the 2016 Democratic National Convention, the Tennessean reported.

“Sergeant Forrest drove up before the mayor arrived in order to do the normal advance work of security detail. They, along with Patrick Hamilton, stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in separate rooms which were held as part of a room block for Democratic mayors from large cities,” the statement read.

Hamilton, a city staffer, was also paid more than $450 for attending the event in Philadelphia, using campaign funds.

The mayor attended the convention from July 24-29 and, according to her spokesman, a security detail was a necessity. “The mayor is the mayor wherever she is and should have security with her at all times,” he said. “Large, high-profile conventions such as this are a potential security threat and protective detail was appropriate.”

Records show that Barry has travel alone while in office or was accompanied by nonsecurity personal, including nine out-of-town business trips in her first nine month in office, the Tennessean reported. Forrest had traveled with Barry before, but his expenses were paid for by the city and not by her campaign. Braisted argued that because the DNC was a political event, the campaign was billed for it.

The ethics committee will conduct an investigation into whether Barry abused campaign funds. The mayor has pledged her cooperation.  

Barry apologized Jan. 31 after it become known that she maintained an extramarital affair with the head of her security that started shortly after she took office in 2015.

Both individuals issued public apologies to the city and their families.

Barry has since said that she hopes to continue her work as mayor, and that she hopes to earn back the trust of her constituents.

Forrest retired after news of the affair went public.