Increasingly detailed perjury claims against Mayor Ed Lee will be highlighted in a much-anticipated Board of Supervisors hearing to determine if suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi should be permanently removed from elected office.
In March, Lee suspended Mirkarimi without pay because he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge involving his wife, Eliana Lopez. But the mayor’s dramatic June 29 testimony -- made during San Francisco’s protracted Ethics Commission official misconduct proceedings and delayed midstream by a mysterious bomb threat -- created bedlam at City Hall.
Lee testified under oath that he never authorized third parties to offer Mirkarimi a city job in exchange for an amicable resignation, and that he never spoke with any members on the Board of Supervisors – essentially the final panel of judges in the saga – about the suspension. Both statements were vocally challenged by current and former city officials, who Mirkarimi’s attorneys call “prominent San Franciscans” in a prehearing request made Monday to supervisors that they subpoena four witnesses to explore perjury accusations.
“The mayor is attempting to remove the democratically elected sheriff for a low level misdemeanor that occurred before he even took office,” said Mirkarimi’s attorney Shepard Kopp. “It strikes me as the height of hypocrisy that that same mayor, by some accounts, did not tell the truth under oath to the Ethics Commission.”
The same four witnesses – former Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, Building Inspection Commissioner Debra Walker, Supervisor Christina Olague and prolific city permit expediter Walter Wong – were not called by the Ethics Commission, despite requests from the Mirkarimi camp, because commissioners determined that the perjury matter was immaterial to whether the sheriff committed misconduct.
See Peskin and Walker's official statements below.
Peskin, a stalwart of The City’s progressive left wing, said Wong approached him in March on behalf of the Mayor’s Office to talk about offering Mirkarimi another city job, perhaps with the Public Utilities Commission or the Airport Commission. Peskin said in a new sworn written declaration that Mirkarimi turned down the offer and instead wanted to be made an undersheriff. The Mayor’s Office apparently declined Mirkarimi’s alternative.
Peskin said he would testify if called upon, but the other witnesses have not responded to questions on the matter.
Also in a new declaration, Walker offers more detail about her original claim that her friend, Olague, had spoken with the mayor about the suspension.
“I asked Supervisor Olague if she thought the Mayor would remove Sheriff Mirkarimi from office. She said that the Mayor had asked her about the case when they were discussing other issues, and had asked her for her thoughts,” Walker declared. “Supervisor Olague told me that if asked, she would deny the conversation with the Mayor happened.”
After the dust-up over the perjury claims, Olague and Walker are apparently no longer friends.
“On June 29, 2012 at 2:10 pm, I received a phone message from Supervisor Olague saying ‘Debra, the conversation never happened,’” Walker said. “I responded to her by text message saying that I thought that she should be honest that the Mayor perjured himself. I got a call the next morning from her but didn’t pick up, and she did not leave a message. A few days later her aide asked me to remove my painting from her office that I had loaned her.”