A revised contract for the law firm lobbying for Metro government shows they received a sizable pay increase just weeks before one of their own lawyers wrote an opinion that supported a controversial request from the mayor.
On Feb. 22, Mayor Megan Barry’s attorney wrote District Attorney Glenn Funk and asked him to consider stepping aside because of a conflict of interest, due to Funk’s office receiving funding through the mayor’s office.
Barry’s attorney, Jerry Martin, also included an opinion by attorney Lucian Pera, the president of the Tennessee Bar Association, who wrote that he believes Funk should also step aside because of a conflict of interest.RELATED CONTENT: Nashville mayor admits affair with security chief | TBI to investigate if Mayor Barry broke law during affair with bodyguard | Mayor, bodyguard lingered on taxpayer-funded trips after public events | Mayor Barry answers questions related to affair with former bodyguard | Mayor’s attorney asking for DA Glenn Funk to recuse himself from investigation | Attorney for mayor says she has turned over passcode to personal phone to TBI | Mayor Megan Barry denies knowledge of alleged lewd photos| Wife of Mayor Barry’s former bodyguard file for divorce following affairPera is an attorney for the law firm Adams and Reese LLP, that serves as the lobbyist for Barry’s Metro government.
Last week, councilman-at-large John Cooper said no one from Adam and Reese should be weighing in on any issue surrounding the mayor.
“That's the conflict of interest here,” John Cooper said.
The News 4 I-Team obtained a copy of the Adams and Reese’s new contract, which was reworked in the midst of the scandal involving the mayor.
On Feb, 8, eight days after Barry admitted her affair, the new contract was finalized for Adams and Reese that included a $409,999.88 increase, amounting to $1,109,000.88 for the length of the contract.
Roughly two weeks after that pay raise went into effect, Pera issued his opinion.
John Cooper believes that further constitutes a conflict of interest.
“The very same law firm (Pera) works for is actually our lobbyist with the state legislature that was under a huge contract changed by this administration,” John Cooper said.
When the News 4 I-team questioned mayor spokesman Sean Braisted about the potential conflict of interest last week, he emailed, “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.”
Metro Nashville Director of Law Jon Cooper issued a statement on Tuesday about the new contract.
"No Metro money has been or will be paid to Adams and Reese and/or Lucian Pera for his opinion. Metro Government had nothing to do with requesting or procuring that opinion. The contract value increased as a result of Adams and Reese handling government relations for Metro at the federal level, in addition to the state level," Jon Cooper said in an emailed statement. "The amendment was prepared and circulated for signature before General Funk asked the TBI to do the investigation."
Last week, a spokesperson for the Tennessee Bar Association reached out to the News 4 I-team to clarify that Pera’s opinion was written as a private attorney, not as a representative of the association.
“An opinion issued recently by TBA President Lucian Pera regarding the investigation into Nashville Mayor Megan Barry was done in his capacity as a private attorney. Pera, a Memphis attorney with Adams and Reese LLP, is a well-known resource for ethics-related issues. The Tennessee Bar Association does not take an official opinion in this matter, or on any case of this nature,” wrote Katharine Heriges, Communications Coordinator for TBA.
Last week, Pera said he could not comment.
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