Breaking News
More () »

Political scandal part of East Tennessee's history

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry resigned after pleading guilty to felony theft of property greater than $10,000, but East Tennessee has a history of scandal all its own.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry announced her resignation after pleading guilty to a felony theft charge Tuesday.

Last month, Barry admitted to a two year affair with her former chief of security Robert Forrest, who also pleaded guilty to a theft charge Tuesday.

While Nashville processes the news, people here are recalling hometown political scandals through East Tennessee's history.

"You can go all the way back in Tennessee to its very earliest days, and there were even some famous political scandals following the civil war," Attorney Richard Hollow said.

However, it doesn't take looking that far back to see how scandals have impacted people in East Tennessee.

Mike Lowe served as Knox County trustee for 13 years, but in 2015 he admitted to putting two "ghost employees" on payroll. That scheme took at least one million dollars from the county.

In 2013, John Duncan III pleaded guilty to a felony charge of official misconduct for unauthorized bonuses.

Like Nashville's current scandal, the legal components revolve around misusing public funds. However, neither the Duncan III or Lowe charges garnered national publicity like Barry's plea.

However, another famous Knoxville politician did put the city's politics in the national spotlight.

In 1945, Cas Walker was elected as Knoxville's mayor, but a few months later he was removed from office after a bitter recall election.

Yet it was a decade later that he put Knoxville politics on the map.

A photo that appeared in Life magazine in 1956 shows Walker rearing back to punch fellow councilman J.S. Cooper.

Hollow says from a legal perspective, there isn't a difference between public leaders breaking the law and common citizens, but there is a moral difference.

"Part of the effectiveness of government is based on the people being willing to accept the authority of the government without challenge," Hollow said. "If they don't have confidence in the government, then how can they accept it without challenge?"