A Metro council member has filed a bill that would allow the city's ethics board to also investigate violations of executive orders. The filling comes after lawyers working for the committee said the group might not have the authority to investigate a complaint filed against Mayor Megan Barry
Earlier this month, Theeda Murphy, a local activist who’s criticized the city’s policies on policing, filed an official complaint with Metro Council’s Board of Ethical Conduct. The document alleges that Barry’s extramarital affair with Sgt. Rob Forrest, her former head of security and a member of the Metro Nashville Police Department, hindered her ability to act as an “honest broker” between the community and Metro Police.
The document questions the mayor’s response to a number of recent issues related to law enforcement, including a report highlighting a disproportionate number of traffic stops made on black citizens, the controversial death of a man at the hands of an officer and a proposed independent oversight agency to investigate accusations of police misconduct.
The complaint also alleges that the extramarital affair with Forrest violates an executive order she passed two years ago, which tightened rules for government employees around misconduct and conflicts of interest.
But in a letter last week, lawyers contracted by the Board say they don’t believe the mayor’s affair, on its own, violates Metro law. And besides, they say, the board doesn’t have the authority to review potential violations of executive orders.
Councilmember Steve Glover’s ordinance could change that. It would allow the committee to take on an investigation against the Mayor, if they chose to.
One thing the letter does recommend is investigating Forrest’s overtime, which totaled more than $170,000 between summer 2015 through mid-January.
Were it to be proven that he was paid “excessive amounts of overtime” due to his sexual relationship with the Mayor, the document says Barry could be in violation of misusing public funds.
The Board will discuss the legal team’s recommendations at a public hearing on March 7 and then vote whether to take on any investigations at all.