Metro council members tasked with investigating the fallout surrounding Mayor Megan Barry’s admitted affair say they want extra help from an outside law firm with experience conducting municipal investigations.
At issue has been the question of whether Barry or her bodyguard, Rob Forrest, misused taxpayer money during the course of the affair. Records released by the Mayor's office show significant increases in travel and Forrest’s increased overtime .
Last week, Vice Mayor David Briley selected the seven council members to serve on the committee following an historic vote of 30 out of 39 Metro Council members approving the special investigation.
The members of the committee include at-large council members Erica Gilmore and Bob Mendes, as well as council members Brenda Haywood, Robert Swope, Burkley Allen, Mina Johnson, and Russ Pulley.
At its first meeting Thursday, the committee elected Allen as it's chair.
Last week, Allen was one of the few council members to vote against the formation of the committee she will now lead.
The committee gave Vice Mayor David Briley two weeks to pick at least two law firms for the investigative committee to choose from, as the group that will help the committee through the investigation.
That outside help would conduct much of the investigation and report back to the investigative committee of council members, divvying up the work with the Metro Auditor .
At the meeting, Metro Council attorney Mike Jameson said an outside firm could interview witnesses under oath in private, rather than in the middle of a public investigative committee meeting, allowing the interviews to take place "in a less-circus-like atmosphere."
Mayor Megan Barry has said she’s prepared to write a check if investigators question any of her use of public money.
The Metro Council investigation into potential misuse of taxpayer money is in addition to a TBI investigation already underway at the request of District Attorney General Glenn Funk and is separate from a Board of Ethical Conduct complaint that could lead to a separate hearing.
The next meeting of the investigative committee will take place at 4:30 p.m. on March 1, inside Metro Council chambers.