Nashville Mayor Megan Barry resigned Tuesday after pleading guilty to a felony that stemmed from an investigation into an affair she had with an officer on her security detail.
“My time today as your mayor concludes,” Ms. Barry, a Democrat, said in a press conference after her court appearance. “God bless this wonderful city. I love you, Nashville.”
She apologized to city employees, saying: “I sincerely hope and believe that my own actions will not tarnish or otherwise detract from all of the great work that they do.”
In state court Tuesday, she pleaded guilty to theft of property and agreed to pay the city $11,000 in restitution and serve three years of unsupervised probation.
Ms. Barry has been under investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and other agencies after she acknowledged publicly on Jan. 31 that she had an extramarital affair with her bodyguard, a police sergeant. She is being investigated for possible misuse of funds while the two traveled on official business and other matters.
David Briley, vice mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, is in line to become the acting mayor. The political scandal has hit the metro area of 1.8 million as the fast-growing city is one of 20 bidding for Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters. It also comes as Ms. Barry has been pushing an ambitious transit plan, totaling at least $5.4 billion, for the city.
When Ms. Barry first announced the affair, which lasted for about two years, she said she hoped to be forgiven for the transgression and stay on as mayor. Ms. Barry, who is married, said at the time that the affair was over.
“I’m flawed, and I’m incredibly sad and sorry,” she said at the time, but added that “people make mistakes, and you move on from those.”
Ms. Barry had said she didn’t break any laws during the affair, which continued while she and her bodyguard traveled to various cities on official business.
John Geer, a political-science professor at Vanderbilt University, said the university conducted a poll after the scandal broke that showed the majority of those surveyed still approved of Ms. Barry as mayor, even if they didn’t approve of the affair.
But as pressure from the investigations grew, including speculation of possible criminal charges, the scandal became a large distraction for the city government, he said.
“With the resignation, that distraction obviously ends,” he said.
Ms. Barry, 54 years old, was elected in 2015 and took office in September of that year. The affair began early the next year.
A special election to replace Ms. Barry will take place in the summer, with a runoff election afterward if necessary.
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