The political fate of Supervisor Ed Jew now rests in the hands of Mayor Gavin Newsom, who has the authority to remove an elected official from office and fill the empty supervisor seat.
Jew, under investigation by the City Attorney’s Office and the FBI, was charged Tuesday with nine felonies in connection with voter fraud and perjury by the San Francisco district attorney. If convicted of a felony crime involving moral turpitude, the City Charter would mandate Jew’s immediate removal from office.
However, without a conviction, the charter grants the mayor the authority to suspend and remove elected officials for official misconduct.
The timing for a mayoral appointee to the 11-member Board of Supervisors would be politically advantageous to Newsom, as seven members frequently vote against his initiatives. Eight votes are needed to override a mayoral veto.
Touting himself as a politician untethered to any political base, Jew has now found himself with few allies within City Hall, and the mayor could use a more loyal vote than he has had with Jew.
“The mayor will be reviewing all of the facts before making such a determination,” Newsom’s spokesperson, Nathan Ballard, said after charges against Jew were announced Tuesday.
Asked Tuesday morning, before the charges against Jew were filed, on whether he’d initiate Jew’s removal, Newsom said he wasn’t ready to take such action.
“Politically, right now, it’s much easier with all the weighted evidence to just pile on, but I don’t think that’s right,” Newsom said.
“I’ll give someone the benefit of the doubt until all the facts are there and then pass judgment.”
If Jew resigns before July 10 — 120 days before the November election — Newsom is also entitled to choose a replacement to serve until November. If he resigns after July 10, the appointee will serve out the remainder of Jew’s term, according to the City Charter.
After hearing of the district attorney’s charges, Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin said it might be time for Jew to leave office.
“Obviously, as president of the board, I care very deeply about the integrity of the board,” Peskin said. “If I were in this pickle, I’d seriously consider resigning.”
Supervisor Tom Ammiano expressed sympathy for Jew, but also questioned his ability to serve.
“It’s a sad state of affairs for Mr. Jew and I think particularly for his family. He deserves due process, like anyone,” Ammiano said. “I’m just wondering if, with the burden of these charges, he can perform fully. I think he needs to consider that and look at resignation as a step that might benefit the public good.”
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