Former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry will not be censured for violating the city’s ethics rules. Unless there’s a surprise, that means Metro’s official actions against the former mayor have now concluded.
Although the Board of Ethical Conduct faulted her in December, the Metro Council chose not to issue a formal reprimand Tuesday night.
It follows a series of attempts to take action against Barry. First, a special investigation was started but called off because of other similar investigations already underway. Then an audit was completed — although it left some questions unanswered.
And finally, this push for an ethics violation has now ended with a procedural whimper at the Metro Council.
The matter came to the council after its Board of Ethical Conduct found two violations by Barry related to her steering of extra overtime to the police sergeant bodyguard with whom she was having an affair.
The board recommended that the council censure Barry, which is the weakest of four possible punishments (the other three had already taken place, including Barry's resignation and guilty plea in court).
But on Tuesday, as a small group of council members discussed whether to follow through with censure, there was a strong legal question outlined by the council’s attorney — that it is unclear if the council has the power to take action against a former official.
Facing that doubt, the committee deferred. Councilwoman Antoinette Lee offered a brief explanation during the full meeting.
“I feel that we as a body have no authority to bind or censure a former Davidson County elected official or employee,” Lee said. “Punishments and penalties have already been rendered by the appropriate jurisdictions.”
It’s unclear whether any council members will try to clarify the law for future ethics complaints.
Also last night, Councilwoman Erica Gilmore withdrew her proposal that would have asked school board member Jill Speering to apologize to Schools Director Shawn Joseph related to a protest that Speering had tried to organize against him.