Group Pledges Recall Petition If Mayor Barry Doesn't Step Down

Group Pledges Recall Petition If Mayor Barry Doesn't Step Down
Posted at 8:56 PM, Mar 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-02 16:55:43-05

A group wanting to force Mayor Megan Barry out of office says, if she doesn’t step down, they’ll push her out.

Johann Porisch is behind an effort called “Recall Megan Barry,” and he says he has plans for volunteers to fan out across dozens of election precincts during the upcoming May 1 Davidson County primary election, seeking signatures for a recall petition that could remove Barry from office.

The move comes as Barry faces several investigations into potential criminal charges and policy violations surrounding her admitted affair with her former Metro police bodyguard Rob Forrest.

“We believe there has been an abuse of taxpayer funds in the Mayor’s Office," Porisch said. "She’s also had an unethical relationship with a subordinate and has gapped the public’s trust,”

Porisch faces an uphill battle in his recall effort.

For a recall election to be held in Nashville, Metro’s charter requires that his group gather the signatures of 15 percent of all registered voters in Nashville – that amounts to more than 60 thousand signatures. 

And he would have only 30 days to gather the signatures after filing the recall petition.

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Porisch says he has more than 1,500 signatures of registered Nashville voters already – people who he says have pledged to sign the recall petition once it’s filed.

He says he began collecting pledges on February 13.

Porisch says he plans on officially filing the recall petition on April 10, one day before early voting for the May election begins, allowing signature gatherers to staff early voting locations.

Even if the signature gathering is successful, Mayor Barry’s name would appear on the ballot along with any challengers who qualify to run -- unless she specifically requests her name be removed.

Porisch says he has also filed as a 501(c)4 organization – IRS-speak for what they call “social advocacy groups” – under the name “Fix America Now,” allowing the group to take donations that Porisch says will go toward the recall effort, among other priorities.

Under IRS regulations, social advocacy groups can’t spend more than half their money on politics.

Porisch says only 40 percent of the group’s time and money will be spent “recalling corrupt public officials,” while the remaining 60 percent will be split between advocating for voter registration and sending mailers to registered voters explaining what’s on future ballots.

Unlike more-publicized Political Action Committees -- groups that also can raise money from donors -- 501(c)4 organizations do not have to publicly disclose where they get their money from.

Porisch says the group has raised “several thousand dollars,” exclusively from Davidson County residents, but he says he hoping to expand to a national advocacy group dedicated to holding local government officials accountable.

As such, Porisch said he couldn’t promise he’d disclose all the donations his group may receive in the future.