The public relations firm, McNeely Pigott & Fox, abruptly resigned today from work on Nashville's proposed convention center, NewsChannel 5 Investigates has learned.
Mayor Karl Dean also announced that he would hire an independent auditor to examine the firm's billings and other contracts associated with the project.
It comes after a NewsChannel 5 investigation revealed costs associated with a communications contract grew to nearly half million dollars -- six times the original amount of the contract.
In a letter sent to the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency's executive director Phil Ryan, the firm's partner David Fox said, "The progress of this important project has been sidetracked in recent days by a flurry of allegations concerning the communications efforts by McNeely, Pigott & Fox on behalf of he center." He called claims against the firm "misleading" and said they have "been very hurtful to us and our 65 very fine employees."
The letter goes on to state, "Therefore, it is with great regret that we are voluntarily stepping down as the public relations firm of record for the Music City Center project."
After our initial story two weeks ago detailed spending under the contract, Mayor Karl Dean temporarily suspended the contract and ordered Metro's Finance Director to review the firms bills to MDHA.
The resignation came just hours before the firm is scheduled to answer questions from Metro Council members at a special meeting. A representative from McNeely Pigott & Fox is scheduled to join the head of MDHA at tonight's meeting.