Board vote on sheriff’s ouster still up in air

S.F. Examiner File PhotoRoss Mirkarimi is asking for the final vote determining his political fate to be held after the Nov. 6 election.

It remains unclear whether suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi will have his political future decided by the Board of Supervisors before or after the Nov. 6 election.

The elected sheriff-in-limbo, who has been facing The City’s meticulous removal process since March, asked that a final judgment be delayed until after the election, in which five supervisorial seats are up for grabs.

The decision on the timing appears to rest with Ethics Commission Chairman Ben Hur, who said at a meeting Tuesday that he’ll decide later — possibly at a future public meeting — when to send the official misconduct findings to the board.

Last month, the commission found that Mirkarimi committed official misconduct during a Dec. 31 domestic violence dispute involving 
his wife, Eliana Lopez. The marital conflict eventually resulted in a misdemeanor false imprisonment conviction for the recently elected sheriff.

Once the commission submits its findings to supervisors, a 30-day clock begins ticking for them to act. Nine of 11 members of the board must agree with the official misconduct charges — which were originally levied by Mayor Ed Lee — to permanently remove Mirkarimi from office. Ethics Commission Executive Director John St. Croix said last week that the commission had planned to submit the final findings Sept. 18.

Mirkarimi’s attorneys argued in a written brief to the Ethics Commission that a pre-election decision is far too politically sensitive and “tantamount to telling a judge or jury that how they determine the outcome of a case will decide whether or not they get to keep their jobs.”

The argument was accompanied by supporting documents showing speculative news articles and campaign materials from supervisorial candidates saying that if they were in charge, Mirkarimi would not get their votes.

Two candidates vying to represent The City’s southwest District 7, Norman Yee and F.X. Crowley, both sent out email blasts assuring voters they would vote for the sheriff’s ouster.

“As a husband, a father, and a community leader, I cannot condone allowing Mr. Mirkarimi to continue as our top law enforcement official,” Yee wrote.

Mirkarimi’s argument also included a recent poll of 500 likely San Francisco voters showing that 51 percent would be “less likely” to vote for a candidate who supported the sheriff’s 
reinstatement.

Along with a brief discussion of the vote’s timing, Tuesday’s Ethics Commission hearing included an addition to the written findings of official misconduct that questioned the credibility of Lopez’s testimony in July. The language said a tearful 53-second video made by Lopez a day after the couple’s spat was more credible than her hours-long testimony supporting her husband and decrying the removal process as a corrupt coup.

Paula Canny, Lopez’s attorney, snapped at commissioners over the addition.

“My client wants you to know that you’re 
flat-out wrong,” Canny said.

dschreiber@sfexaminer.com

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