Defense Counsel Requests Subpoenas in Sheriff Misconduct Case; Mayor Denies Perjury Allegations, Releases Statement

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in News, Politics

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Published on July 12, 2012 with 17 Comments

The San Francisco Ethics Commission is a quasi-judicial body that wields subpoena power.  File photo by Luke Thomas.

By Luke Thomas

July 11, 2012

Defense counsel for suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi today filed a formal request with the San Francisco Ethics Commission requesting the quasi-judicial body to issue subpoenas to four witnesses in connection with allegations of perjury by Mayor Ed Lee.

The allegations of mayoral perjury have taken center stage in the case, overshadowing the official misconduct charges filed by the mayor following Mirkarimi’s plea in March to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment stemming from a heated argument between Mirkarimi and his wife, Eliana Lopez, on December 31 that resulted in a bruise on Lopez’s right arm.

“If Mayor Lee lied under oath as to communications he had with Supervisor Olague, or Mayor Lee lied under oath about offering Sheriff Mirkarimi a job in exchange for his resignation, then the Mayor’s case is utterly without merit,” a legal brief filed by Mirkarimi co-counsel David Waggoner and Shepard Kopp states. “As the charging official in this case, the truthfulness of the Mayor’s testimony is of paramount importance.”

The Ethics Commission, which has the power to subpoena witnesses, could deny the request but is unlikely to do so, Waggoner said, adding Deputy City Attorney Peter Keith is attempting to arrange an “off-the-record conference” between attorneys and Ethics Commission President Ben Hur.

Due to the seriousness of the multiple perjury allegations and the potential impact to the reliability of evidence, discussions about subpoenas must be held on-the-record and before the entire Ethics Commission, Waggoner said.

Mirkarimi defense counsel David Waggoner and Deputy City Attorney Peter Keith.

In his June 29 sworn testimony in response to pointed questions posed by Kopp, Lee said he did not speak to any members of the Board of Supervisors prior to suspending the sheriff, nor did he offer Mirkarimi a job, via an intermediary, in exchange for his resignation.

Both denials are being publicly challenged.  Building Inspection Commissioner Debra Walker claims Lee-appointed District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague told Walker the mayor sought Olague’s opinion in March about what the mayor should do about Mirkarimi prior to suspending him, and former Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, who called for Mirkarimi to resign, claims he was contacted by Walter Wong, a politically connected developer and permit expediter with strong ties to Lee, to negotiate Mirkarimi’s resignation on behalf of the mayor in exchange for a City or private-sector job.  Mirkarimi reportedly rejected the offers.

Any discussions between the mayor and the Board of Supervisors – the eleven-member legislative body that will ultimately decide if Mirkarimi will keep his job – would be tantamount to “jury tampering,” Waggoner said.

Olague subsequently denied she had any conversations with either the mayor or Walker about the Mirkarimi case, but has said she may have to recuse herself from voting on the matter.

Walker, Olague, Peskin and Wong are the four witnesses Mirkarimi’s defense counsel wants the Ethics Commission to subpoena and testify under penalty of perjury.

If the allegations are proved true, the mayor would have himself committed official misconduct in an official misconduct case, torpedoed an opportunity to remove a political rival from office, and subjected himself to possible criminal charges.

Within an hour of the subpoena request filing, the mayor released a statement calling the allegations of perjury against him “reckless” and “outrageous,” stating his testimony was “entirely truthful and based solely on facts.”

“Enough is enough,” the mayor said. “The time has come for Ross Mirkarimi to begin dealing with the facts. The facts are that Ross Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to an act of domestic violence against his wife and he will be on probation for the next three years. His conviction and his probation impair his ability to perform the duties of Sheriff, fall below the standard expected of public officials and constitutes official misconduct.”

The Ethics Commission is set to resume its deliberations July 18 when the request for subpoenas is expected to take precedence over scheduled testimony from Lopez.

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 Defense Counsel Requests Subpoenas in Sheriff Misconduct Case; Mayor Denies Perjury Allegations, Releases Statement are now closed.

  1. Luke, what’s the difference between a comment and a reaction; are the ‘reactions’ the knee jerk kind from the nameless trolls slithering over from SFBG that get flushed down the kazi.

    •  Reactions, I believe, are Tweets and the like.

  2. And how many guns do you own, and where are they, Mr Sheriff?

  3. I reported on the subpoena requests on KPFA yesterday, with audio clips of Ed Lee’s two contested statements from the hearing:

    Searching through that archive for the clips and for Shepard Kopp’s attempt to challenge the mayor’s credibility on the grounds that he had broken his promise not to use appointed incumbency to run for election, was interesting.  Ed Lee looked more composed after the bomb threat, but he also made his worst mistake upon his return, in the second round of cross examination.

  4. KPFA News, 07.14, with the two contested statements audio clipped from the day long hearing.  Thanks to Luke for the photo:

  5. Does anyone know whether the City Attorney has filed formal opposition to these subpoenas on behalf of the Mayor?

  6. Hey,

        Let’s be real here.   If screwing your best friend’s wife on City time in the Mayor’s Office and using the City limo and SFPD narc bodyguards as chauffeurs to drive the two of you on City time for an assignation in the wine country is not a breach of the Voters trust.

    That was Newsom.

    Or, if knocking up your mistress and giving her a million dollars of campaign donations (she was and, uhhh … ‘fundraiser’) does not violate the Voters trust?

    That was just one of Willie’s memorable moments.

    Then, Ed Lee should be able to lie his butt off with impunity.

    And, cut the head off any Progressive caught spitting in the street.

    Ed (the Liar) Lee  …  our Mayor.

    At least the Giants are back in action tomorrow as a distraction.

    And, there’s a new season of ‘Doc Martin’ on free Hulu.

    wadda town

    wadda town


  7. “I do regret I took Ed Lee at his word when he said he would not run,” board president David Chiu said, quipping that when their first one-on-one meeting since Lee joined the race “felt a little bit like meeting an ex-girlfriend after a breakup.”

    Asked to name “the most unpardonable sin a politician can commit,” City Attorney Dennis Herrera made a full-throated attack on lying.

    “It’s incredibly important we stick to our word because it’s the only way we can establish trust in terms of how we deal with each other as elected officials and in government,” Herrera said. “When you don’t keep your word and you don’t live up to your word, I think there isn’t anything more corrosive of the public trust.”

    • Well, one can always tell when a politician is lying.  They open their mouth and speak.  This occurs at all levels of government.

  8. If this job offer was made, there are others who should be getting subpoenas.  That would have been worked up in a huddle that included more than Ed Lee and Walter Wong.   

    I’m waiting to see some subpoenas for the SFPD about the preposteroso bomb threat that busted up Ed Lee’s sworn testimony before he could answer Shepard Kopp’s question: “Would you agree with me that one of the things that is expected of elected officials is for them to be honest and forthright in dealing not only with their constituents, but with other elected officials?”

  9. If the Mayor lied, that should be considered by the ethics commission, but in a separate matter.  The commission procedings should be limited to Ross’ (and his attorney’s) actions, in the alleged abuse, or in the alleged attempt to get a witness to withold evidence.

    • I can understand this on one level, Richmondman…but did you stop to think how much more money yet another ethics commission hearing would cost? I don’t think it would take too much to get somewhere with these latest allegations. And they are part of the mix, so…while i fear that the Ethics Committee might come down as you do and say “we are only here to ascertain whether or not Ross violated misconduct laws”…it might be unwise to deflect this inquiry to a later date. 
      And on another level, I believe in the law of karma on this one…enough’s been pointed out already on that score. Unintentional justice, you might call it. To spell it out: if the behavior of the Mayor will prove itself to have been too rash, too punitive to fit the misdeed, and too mean-spirited/misleading in order to reach his desired ends, then maybe this is him getting his comeuppance. Time will tell.  

    • If Ed Lee perjured himself perhaps twice, then Ed Lee’s complaint is suspect itself, fruits of a very poison tree.

  10. The Mayor
    2011 “I am not running for Mayor.”
    2012 “I did not perjure myself.”  Hmmm.  Credibility anyone?

  11. Guess
    the Mayor is hoping his strong denials will sway the Commission to demure…I
    find his word  “reckless” to be particularly interesting
    seeing how I and many others feel his describing the fact of arm-bruising as wife-beating
    to have been reckless. And telling as well: I hear a lot of huffing and puffing
    here, in the hopes of “blowing your house down” (from the Three Little Pigs). In
    fact we might get a chuckle out of The Three Little Pigs, from Wikipedia: The story begins with the title
    characters being sent out into the world by their mother, to “seek their
    fortune”. The first little pig builds a house of straw, but a wolf blows
    it down and the pig runs to his brother’s house. The second pig builds a house
    of sticks and when he sees his brother he lets him in, with the same ultimate
    result. Each exchange between wolf and pig features ringing proverbial phrases,

    pig, little pig, let me come in. “No, no, not by the hair on my chinny
    chin chin.”? “Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house

    third pig builds a house of hard bricks and when he sees his brothers he lets them in. The wolf fails to blow down the
    house. He then attempts to trick the pigs out of the house, but the pigs
    outsmart him at every turn. Finally, the wolf resolves to come down the chimney, whereupon the
    pigs boil a pot of water in which the wolf then lands and is cooked.


    see how our very own fairy tale ends…I stand with the pigs, and I hope all’s
    well that ends well.

  12. Ed Lee serenades Rose and Willie.

  13.  I am not sure I agree with Kopp’s statement that the case against Mirkarimi is “utterly without merit” if Lee or Olague lied.  All the evidence against Mirkarimi predates what Lee or Olague may or may not have done or said.  I suspect we will have a standoff on the witness stand.  If there is even an appearance or suggestion of impropriety on Olague’s part, she can simply recuse herself from the Board of Supervisors deliberation on the matter.