New questions surround Mayor Barry, former head of security’s travel

New questions surround Mayor Barry, former head of security’s travel

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – News 2 has learned more about the trips Nashville Mayor Megan Barry took with her former head of her security detail, Sgt. Rob Forrest.

On Friday, the mayor’s office released hundreds of pages of documents associated with Mayor Barry and Forrest’s travel.

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They show that Sgt. Forrest and Mayor Barry were slated to go to the Grammy’s this year and they would have returned January 29 from the trip.

The trip was cancelled and two days later, on January 31, Mayor Barry publicly admitted they were having an affair.

The mayor’s spokesperson said the trip was cancelled because, “Mayor Barry made the decision to cancel the trip in order to be in Nashville that weekend. It was officially cancelled on January 20.”

News 2 also found that Mayor Barry’s campaign, “Friends of Megan Barry,” paid Sgt. Forrest $1,269 on August 22, 2016.

The mayor’s spokesman, Sean Braisted, said in a statement, “Mayor Barry attended the 2016 Democratic National Convention as a delegate and as a representative of the city of Nashville. Sgt. 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 travel expenses for all three were billed to the campaign, not Metro, out of an abundance of caution due to the political nature of event. The reimbursement for Sgt. Forrest was for lodging, meals, gas, and parking expenses.

As Chief Anderson has said, the mayor is the mayor wherever she is and should have security with her at all times. Large, high profile conventions such as this are a potential security threat and protective detail was appropriate. During the convention Mayor Barry met with many other mayors, as well as state and federal officials.”

Lastly, News 2 noticed that while the Mayor and Sgt. Forrest always sat next to each other on airplanes, if someone was traveling with them, they sat in another row and they also always had separate hotel rooms. Braisted said the pair never slept in the same room.

There was also a question about who approved Sgt. Forrest’s travel. Forrest’s travel documents show his travel was approved by Police Chief Steve Anderson.

However, according to a memo sent by Metro’s IT department, Chief Anderson never saw nor approved the requests. It said he approved it due to an “undiscovered system flaw.” Read the full memo here

What’s more, Chief Anderson wasn’t supposed to approve Sgt. Forrest’s travel. Instead the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, Debbie Dale Mason, had been put in charge of approving Forrest’s travel since October 2016.

The memo said the change was “unusual” as usually the department head, in this case Chief Anderson, would approve such travel requests.

Braisted told News 2, “In an effort to minimize the impact of travel expenses on the MNPD budget, expenditures were brought into the mayor’s office budget account.

Under the system of authorization, Chief Steve Anderson was supposed to approve the travel authorization after it was approved by the Mayor’s Chief of Staff. Due to a system error (outlined in the attached memo), Chief Anderson did not have a chance to approve the expenditures as we believed he had. Neither the Mayor’s Office, MNPD, or Metro ITS were aware of this issue until we began having conversations with the MNPD in relation to the Mayor’s announcement. Metro ITS was asked to identify the source of the problem. This issue applied to all security detail travel authorization, not simply Sgt. Forrest. Now that the issue has been identified, it can be rectified by ITS. This is nothing more than a coincidental computer system error.”

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