Councilman: Mayor’s camp bullying district attorney - WSMV News 4

Councilman: Mayor’s camp bullying district attorney

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Nashville Mayor Megan Barry (WSMV) Nashville Mayor Megan Barry (WSMV)

A Metro councilman-at-large is criticizing the mayor of Nashville for “creating a sort of veiled threat” to the district attorney’s office.

Councilman-at-large John Cooper said moves by the Mayor Megan Barry camp that suggest that District Attorney Glenn Funk should step away from leading the investigation into her affair constitutes bullying.

“To create a sort of veiled threat about anybody doing their job is not helpful,” Cooper said.

The war of words began on Thursday when, in a statement, Barry expressed her frustration about the warrant issued for her personal cell phone.

“It is unclear who made the decision to pursue this course of action, though General Funk is the person directing the investigation,” Barry stated.

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Jerry Martin, Barry’s personal attorney, wrote Funk a letter, suggesting the district attorney has a conflict of interest in leading the investigation.

Funk, like the heads of all metro offices, must go before the mayor to present his budget.

“Actually Glenn Funk raised this issue to my attorney last week. He was concerned about potential conflict of interest. We took that very seriously when he did that and we took our due diligence,” Barry said.

That due diligence: get the head of the Tennessee Bar Association to weigh in.

Lucian Pera, the head of the Tennessee Bar Association, wrote in a letter to Martin that expressed his belief that the entire district attorney’s office should recuse itself from the investigation because it receives funding primarily from Metro government.

Cooper believed Pera’s opinion and Martin’s letter to Funk constitutes a veiled threat.

“What's a little exasperating was the pledge to cooperate fully with all the investigation. Now the second you have a part of the investigation you don't like and it seems to be revealing … then you threaten the budget?” Cooper said.

The News 4 I-Team also found that the firm that employs Pera, Adams and Reece LLP, became a lobbyist for Metro government four months ago.

"Any person from that law firm should not be commenting on this manner and certainly not be commenting on a matter of conflict of interest,” Cooper said.

Pera said he could not comment on any questions of conflict of interest.

Sean Braisted, the spokesman for Barry, wrote in an email, “Lucian Pera is a well-respected ethics attorney from Memphis and President of the Tennessee Bar Association. He has no involvement in the government relations work for the city of Nashville. His opinion is not a personal one, but a well-researched legal opinion. The facts outlined in the opinion speak for themselves and there is established precedence for a District Attorney General to recuse himself from leading an investigation into the County Mayor.”

In a statement released to the media, Funk wrote, “When the TBI investigation is complete, I will fulfill and perform the requirements of my office. Until that occurs, this office will not have public comment so as to not interfere with the TBI investigation.”

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