Allegation of Mayoral Perjury Casts Doubt on Official Misconduct Case Against Suspended Sheriff

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in News, Politics

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Published on July 01, 2012 with 58 Comments

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee testified under oath Friday that he never discussed the official misconduct case against suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi with any members of the Board of Supervisors. Photos by Luke Thomas

By Luke Thomas

July 1, 2012

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s official misconduct case against suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi was thrown into a tailspin Friday when the mayor allegedly perjured himself during an Ethics Commission probe into whether the democratically elected sheriff is guilty of official misconduct.

Perjury is considered a serious offense as it can be used to usurp judicial power resulting in miscarriages of justice. If the allegation is true, the mayor would himself have committed official misconduct in an official misconduct case and torpedoed an opportunity to remove a political rival from office.

The allegation of perjury was leveled following an abrupt suspension of the hearing due to an unsubstantiated bomb threat when minutes earlier the mayor denied under oath that he had spoken with any members of the Board of Supervisors – the eleven-member body that will ultimately decide if Mirkarimi will keep his job – about whether the mayor should file charges of official misconduct against Mirkarimi following Mirkarimi’s plea to one misdemeanor count of false imprisonment stemming from a heated argument with his wife, Eliana Lopez, on December 31 that resulted in a bruise on Lopez’s right arm.

“Mayor Lee, before you decided to file written charges of misconduct here, did you talk to any Board of Supervisors about whether or not you should do so?” Mirkarimi defense counsel Shepard Kopp asked Lee.

“I did not,” Lee responded.

Mayor Lee is told by SFPD security detail he has to leave the hearing due to a bomb threat.  Only the mayor was evacuated from City Hall.

But according Building Inspection Commissioner Debra Walker, an ally of Mirkarimi and friend of Lee-appointed District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague, Lee sought Olague’s opinion in March as to what she thought he should do about Mirkarimi before moving to suspend him.

“When the mayor said he hasn’t spoken to any supervisors, I know that to be not the fact,” Walker said following Lee’s testimony during the two-hour recess. “I was told by Christina Olague that she was meeting with the mayor about things and he had asked her specifically whether or not he should remove Mirkarimi from office and at the time Christina told me she had opined that he should ask for his resignation and if Mirkarimi didn’t resign he should just let it go.”

Walker had several conversations with Olague about Olague’s meeting with the mayor, both on the phone and in person, Walker said.

“So I was shocked when he said that because he’s our mayor and he was lying under oath,” Walker said. “Either that or I was misinformed as to him having a conversation with Christina.”

Building Inspection Commissioner Debra Walker discusses with reporters the conversations she had with Supervisor Christina Olague.

Walker said she had discussed the conversations she had with Olague with others including Dance Mission Theater co-founder Krissy Keefer.

“Christina told Debra and Debra told me two months ago that [the mayor] conferred with Christina about whether he should suspend Ross or not,” Keefer said.

Walker confirmed her availability to be called as a witness in the case and to testify under oath.  Keefer could not be reached to confirm her availability.

Olague, who was confronted by several reporters asking her to respond to Walker’s claim, initially declined to comment, but relented saying, “I never talked to Debra Walker about this subject matter so – and we can’t talk about this subject matter because it is something that may be coming before the Board. So we have to be judge and jury on this and we’re not allowed to comment on it publicly.”

District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague.

Asked why Walker would make such a claim if not true, Olague said, “I’m not sure why she would say this because we’re not allowed to discuss this matter with anyone before it comes to the Board. So it may be that I just have to be conflicted out if people are saying that I’ve had these types of conversations.”

“We’ve been advised by our attorneys that we can’t talk about this subject matter with anybody because it’s going to come before the Board.

“At this point I may just have to recuse myself from voting on this on the Board,” Olague added.

When Fog City Journal returned to the Ethics Commission hearing following the interview with Olague, Walker said she received a voice message from Olague.

“Debra, I never had that conversation. Thanks,” Olague said in her voice message to Walker.

Lee, after completing his testimony, declined to comment on the alleged conversation he had with Olague.

Asked what actions, if any, Mirkarimi’s defense counsel will pursue following the revelation of alleged perjury by the mayor, Kopp said, “We take the allegations of perjury very seriously and are currently evaluating the causes of action available to us.”

Possible causes of action include calling Olague to the witness stand to testify under oath and calling for a suspension of the Ethics Commission hearing until an external judicial body properly adjudicates the perjury allegation.

Mirkarimi defense counsel Paula Canny, Shepard Kopp and David Waggoner.

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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Comments for Allegation of Mayoral Perjury Casts Doubt on Official Misconduct Case Against Suspended Sheriff are now closed.

  1. Hey, Luke, thanks for this. When Commissioner Hur (that’s right, Ben Hur) said he’d been “informed” we have to adjourn the meeting, I thought, by whom? Mayor Lee, through some sort of secret baseball signal? I’m hoping that while cooking Ross’s goose, he inadvertently threw his own into the pot. He can dish it out, right?

  2. Most folks assume Walker is a close friend of Christina Olague, as both belong and support the gay community, both are known progressives so why did Walker throw Olague under the bus? Let’s look at some recent events that may have changed Walkers alliance to Olague, her support against RCV a cornerstone of progressive values, the 8 Washington vote and the fundraiser in Chinatown last week where Rose Pak and her Chinese Chamber of Commerce raised $46:000 for Olague’s D5 supervisors race in one night. Walker has maintained her progressive values where Olauge has not because she is now under the umbrella of Ed Lee which in turn is owned by Rose Pak.

    • Hmmm.  Lots of people at KPFA tell me they’re sure this ordeal is Willie Brown’s work, but I don’t think it has his prints on it.  Friday’s phony bomb threat was too sure to become the subject of ridicule and/or further investigation. Rose Pak, I couldn’t say. Had to be someon

  3. What a relief to be here instead of trolling in the muck at SFBG. Welcome back h, greetings Cindy.
    It’s all just more business as usual politically expedient selective ‘law’ enforcement, so sick of this shit. It seems like Ethics and Sunshine may be getting a little more active. Watching the proceedings I was impressed at the way ‘Ben-Hur’ conducted himself. 
    My suggestions for four more overlooked investigations that could,should have been, pursued with equal vigor.
    1) Fire Chief beaning spouse with a bottle.
    2) City Attorney disenfranchising 30,000 voters on a technicality only used one time before.
    3) Former Mayor engaging in ‘inappropriate’ sexual relations with a subordinate;admitted drug and      
       alcohol abuse.
    4) Alleged ‘irregularities’ in conduct of current Mayor’s campaign.
    All committed while holding public office.
    Just my thruppence.

    • Make that ‘inappropriate’ sexual relations with a subordinate, admitted drug and alcohol abuse, in City Hall and on the clock.

  4. Guilty until proven innocent.

  5. The bomb threat that the SFPD security detail was refering, it was the stomach of Mayor Lee, and here again using his powers.

    • Ed Lee was on the witness stand.  You think he texted someone: “Get me outa here!”???

      • My scenario is more like “someone” was watching the action and decided to pull their boy outta there.

  6. Deja vu all over again?

       Am I the only one who recalls how the case against Tony Hall fell apart

    in front of the Ethics Commission?     The star witness for the

    prosecution (led by the Mayor) was caught with tainted evidence and had

    to take the 5th to keep from perjuring herself.

       So, will the Mayor refuse to take the stand again?    Will the cops

    admit that there was no bomb threat?    Will Olague and Walker take lie

    detector tests?    And, what ‘s the tie to Tom Cruise and the Church of


    These people tell more lies than my last wife.

    Go Giants!


  7. Christina Olague you are liar, said the true, The justice is in your hands, well they should check everything of this liar, of course Mayor Ed Lee choose you to be the supervisor, that is why you will not said anything, what goes around, comes around, in your hands are always going part of the guiltiness to ruin the daddy of a poor kid that is suffering for this political matter.

  8. Was there a bomb threat or not? If it was a real threat why then was the people in the room not evacuated, along with the rest of the folks at city hall, if it was not a real bomb threat, then we have a felony, it is as serious as yelling fire in a packed theater.
    The true will come out,

    • though i suppose they would say that they needed the mayor to “be appraised of something”….something really doesn’t smell right though….and I have a very good sense of smell. And I was there.

  9. Here’s my KPFA News report with Paula Canny, Eliana Lopez’s lawyer, on the totally implausible bomb threat: Thanks to Luke for the photo of the SFPD plainclothesman telling Mayor Lee it’s time to go, (while everyone else stays to face the bomb).

  10. Hi Luke!

  11. Debra said that Christine said and she told Kristy and they were all smoking ciggies out behind the boys locker room. Wow…As the Stomach Turns. This entire thing is getting out of hand, and as someone who has always been an outsider, even when I lived and ran for Congress there, everyone is looking very silly.

    • No, they are looking very typical.  This is all so typical of politics today (at all levels)—which is why I can’t stand politics any longer or talking about politics any longer—and I suspect that nothing will come of any of this.  I suspect that nothing will happen to this piece of work Lee.  There have been no consequences for any of his previous actions and the allegations against him.

      Sleaze, corruption, lies et al are standard practice today in the political cesspool.

      And Cindy, if you had made it into the bubbling sewer called congress, you would have been very lonely there. You would have been even more of an outcast than Kucinich.


      •  you’re right, Rosa…

    • Hi to you Cindy Girl!  I’m way behind in Soapboxes. . . gotta listen to the one with the Obama cartoonist.  Yes, a lot of this is looking silly, but the stakes are arguably very high.  Ross, in his career, has stood for renewable, public power, public banking, and restorative justice, rehabilitation, re-entry, and alternative sentencing.  

      •  out here in the hinterlands, it doesn’t look like Ross is handling himself very well, either. Hi Annie!

        • Not so well at first, but he apologized, took responsibility for his action, and I think you would’ve had to feel for him on Friday, if you’d been watching the webcast, when he had to hold back tears saying that he’d never in his wildest dreams imagined that he would himself become an example of the redemptive criminal justice he’s always advocated.  I’ve watched a lot of these Ethics Commission webcasts and there are more women than men there, a disproportionate number of them Black and Latina.  

          And I don’t think it’s really about Ross so much anymore, but about what he stands for.  Why even talk about what the commander-in-chief gets up to overseas if someone who stands for the stuff Ross stands for can’t even rise this far beyond the Board of Supervisors?  He and Eric Mar had to deal with a lot of people screaming at them at the Board for attending a rally for Palestine in January 2009.

  12. I am personally tired of the whole thing and I think it should be stopped before it gets any worse. People can accuse you of anything and ruin your life with or without a reason. Our system is very broken to say the least. When the Fire Chief gets charged for DV and official misconduct then I will believe our city treats all cases equal until then I have my doubts.

  13. Thanks for the article and the pics. I’ll be doing a writeup at the Civic Center photoblog focusing on the Mysterious Bomb Threat that was seemingly only directed at one person, the Mayor, while everyone else at City Hall was not even notified of the so-called threat.

    The complete silence today over at SFGate about any of this also speaks volumes.

    • I had been wondering about SFGate.  Sorry to hear that.  I find it so hard to believe they thought they could ignore the so-called bomb threat that I’ll have to go check myself, but what about the TV stations?  

      • however there is mention of it in one of their articles, tho maybe it was from yesterday…

    • KTVU called it a “false bomb threat,” but didn’t explain the evacuation of one, Mayor Lee.  Also described both Ross and Ed Lee as powerful respondents in court.

    • The Examiner – meaning the voice of the paper, without a byline or tag line – wrote that Ed Lee should be held to the same standards that Ross is held to.

  14. Ah, the plot sickens.

  15. The bomb threat is easy to prove was it real or not, Luke the scoop is on it !!!

    •  I wasn’t there, but I was told by someone who was, that ONLY the Mayor was evacuated from the room when the “bomb threat” was invoked.

      •  True.

      • Yes he was the only one, because his testimony was getting good. Let’s recall him.    

    • The Scoop did tell me he was going to be busy today.  

  16. Misleader twice, now caught in what appears to be a lie. 
    First, he mislead us when he did a 180 against his word not to run as mayor, thereby unfairly benefitting from the power of incumbency. Recently, he continues to unfairly characterize Mirkarimi’s arm-grab as “wife-beating”, using the power of his office, unfairly gained, to deceive the public once again by exaggerating reality and in the process demonizing Ross. Both mis-statements are self-serving.
    And now, we have some pretty compelling evidence of a choice to mislead/deceive once again, this time in the form of perjury? I hope the truth comes out. I hope enough people are paying attention.
    I always thought, if you have a person who can so easily do what he did in those days leading up to the Mayoral election, that it wasn’t a small thing. Someone who can do that will do it again…But most San Franciscans probably didn’t know about his about-face to begin with. I’m sure Lee was betting on that in his calculations. I hope this newest “truth” comes out for all to see, as well as the trail that led us here.

  17. Great shots, Luke.

  18. Lying Lee must go. Fuera Lee

  19. Also, love the pic’ of Paula, Shepherd Kopp, and David Waggoner.  

  20. Shared.  Is there a Twitter hashtag for this case?  Having watched the webcast, I thought the story was the unbelievable bomb threat when Shepherd Kopp was closing in on Ed Lee, who had answered questions he should have known the answers to with a series of “I don’t knows.”  I believe that a phony bomb threat is a serious felony.