Nashville Mayor Megan Barry addresses the media on news of her affair
In a one-on-one interview Wednesday, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry revealed she had an extramarital affair with a police officer who led her security detail.
Tennessean reporter Joey Garrison spoke with Barry before she issued a statement about the affair Wednesday and before she held an evening news conference.
Here are some of the key portions of that interview.
Mayor Megan Barry: At 7 o’clock we will be standing up and talking about a private matter that as a public official I have engaged in an extramarital affair with someone who works in Metro, with a consensual relationship. We’re going to talk about that.
Was the individual your head detail person, Sgt. Rob Forrest?
Why are you coming out now and saying this?
Barry: As people have become aware of this, as a public official, I need to stand up and address it and talk about it specifically, apologize for the harm I’ve done to the people that I love and to the people that counted on me.
How long had the relationship been going on?
Barry: It started, it started during my administration.
Near the beginning of it? Would you say late 2015?
Barry: No, it was past that.
Beginning of 2016?
Barry: It was a little further in to that.
Spring, summer of 2016?
Barry: Around there.
Describe the nature of it.
Barry: I’m not sure what you mean Joey.
Well, he’s somebody who’s around you. I see you there with him all the time as your head security person. I mean, was it, I guess in what way was it inappropriate? Was it a sexual relationship with him?
Barry: I had an affair with him.
Was it appropriate for the mayor of Nashville to have a relationship with somebody who would be considered a subordinate Metro employee to you?
A look back at Megan Barry’s career.
Ayrika Whitney/USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee
Barry: So, this is about the fact that we had an affair and it was wrong. And we shouldn’t have done it. He was head of my security detail, and as part of that responsibility, you know, I should have gone to the chief. And I should have said what was going on, and I didn’t, and that was a mistake.
Do you think you violated any Metro guidelines, ethics laws, anything like that by having this relationship?
From records that I’ve looked at, it appears he went on a lot of trips with yourself and mayor’s office staff, including some where, maybe nine instances in the last 10 months, where it was just you and him. Why, totaling the cost of these there was $21,700 in taxpayer-funded trips for him alone. Why was he on these various trips?
Barry: So those trips were all business-related, and those trips he traveled with me as my detail, which is standard policy with the police department, to have detail with me wherever I am.
Was that the policy of your predecessor, was that a policy that you adopted?
Barry: When I came into office, the chief said that you are always the mayor and you should be secured appropriately.
Did it seem like a necessary thing, to have him on these various trips, wherever they might be?
Barry: It was definitely the recommendation of the police that I should have detail.
With you acknowledging this extramarital affair, some might call these trips with him, particularly the ones where it was just the two of you, inappropriate. Given what you told me a few minutes ago, would you agree with that? What’s your response?
Barry: All of these trips were business-related, and he was there as my security detail.
There have been some rumblings out there today that you might be resigning. Are you resigning?
You seemed to hesitate there.
Barry: Not hesitating at all, no … this is a bad day. And there’s going to be more bad days. But this is not my worst day. I know the difference between a mistake, which is what I made, which I fully own, and a tragedy. This is not a tragedy. And I want to regain the trust of Nashvillians, and I will continue to serve.
Are you taking any sort of leave of absence or anything like that?
You’re a very highly respected leader in this city, both politically and from a lot of girls and young ladies out there who see you as the highest-ranking public official, really in the state, who’s a woman. What’s your response to people who might be disappointed, especially women, about this news?
Barry: People that we admire can also be flawed humans, and I’m flawed. And I am incredibly sad and sorry for the disappointment that I will see in those little girl’s faces. But what I hope they also see is that people make mistakes and that you move on from those.
Are you taking any sort of leave of absence? Are you coming in just like any normal day tomorrow?
Barry: I will be in tomorrow to do the work of the city.
So no leave of absence?
It’s a really important part of your first term right now, with the transit push going on. Are you worried that this news is going to affect your ability, first of all to get that passed, and then to push forward your agenda as mayor here?
Barry: I think the voters of Davidson County were very clear about what they wanted to see in the mayor that they elected, and that was a push on transit and housing and jobs and education and safety. And we have been committed to all of those, and I don’t see that stopping.
Are you planning, I guess how have you discussed this with Bruce, your husband, and are you planning, and I guess what’s the future of your relationship?
Barry: There are some things that are personal. Clearly, Bruce and I would love to have privacy on this. These are things that we are working through, and would ask for that.
No plans on separation?
And so no plans on divorce?
When did you tell Bruce?
Barry: I’m happy to answer all kinds of questions, but I think that there are some pieces of this that are between me and Bruce. That’s how I would like to leave that.
Are you going to invite or ask law enforcement officials in this city to investigate any matter of this case, including the use of Metro funds that were, or perhaps the use of Metro funds that were used on these trips?
Barry: All of the records are available for anybody to review.
When did you first know Sgt. Forrest? I know that he was around during Dean’s term, I think he was hired during Purcell’s. Was he somebody you’ve known for a long time?
Barry: I knew him casually through the Dean administration, but I didn’t know him until I became the mayor.
What did you tell your staff earlier?
Barry: I had a meeting with my staff earlier to apologize to them, to tell them that I know that the work that they do for the city is so critical and I want them to continue to do that. And that I’m grateful for what they do, and that I’m truly sorry.
Did you sense what the mood was from them, or what their response was?
Barry: You know, I think, as with the people in Nashville, I think that they’re disappointed. When you have somebody that you work with that you respect and they do something like this, that hurts. And I think I’ve hurt them, and I know that this is hurtful not only to Bruce and the people that I love and care about but to the citizens of Davidson County.
Going back to those trips … I guess really it was just you going, those would have been trips that you yourself would have been going on normally?
And then he was just joining there? I mean, what were the nature of some of those?
Barry: We’ll provide you with a list and you can see exactly what the trips were. They were all business-related. They all had to do with being the mayor of this city.
Do you still have a relationship with him?
Barry: Uh, no. I don’t understand what you mean.
Well, I mean, you were having an affair with him. Is it an ongoing communication with him? I understand he’s no longer with Metro. Is he somebody that you are still communicating with, regarding this issue?
And so no longer seeing him? I understand he had a two-week notice, I think, and then was his last day today?
Barry: I’m not sure.
In terms of telling so many people who voted for you and who support you and, you know, I know you’re a very popular mayor — I think even your critics would acknowledge that — just in terms of trying to tell them, explain the situation, what do you say?
Barry: I say that, that I know that God’s going to forgive me. But the citizens of Nashville don’t have to. My hope is that I can earn their forgiveness, and I can earn back their trust, and we can do the great work for this city that Nashville deserves.
Again, your stance is that those trips were city business trips, all of them?
Barry: All of them. Every single one.
Some people might say that taxpayer money was being used for an extramarital affair, to advance that relationship. Would you reject that? During these trips, were they exclusively city business or was there some stuff that was to the nature of a relationship with him?
Barry: It was all city business, and the police policy for detail and my busy schedule are what you’re seeing reflected in those trips. Which is the fact that I’m busy and that’s part of the process when you become a mayor, you get security.
You say you’re coming in tomorrow to work?
Are you considering stepping aside?
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