As the San Francisco Ethics Commission prepares to review transcripts tomorrow in its investigation of domestic violence allegations against Ross Mirkarimi, the suspended sheriff sought sympathy from the public and his attorneys moved to delay the proceedings.
Mirkarimi’s attorneys, David Waggoner and Shepard Kopp, asked the Ethics Commission today to postpone delivering its transcripts to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors until after the November election, arguing that the process will deprive Mirkarimi of an objective vote. Once the board receives the transcripts, it must vote whether to reinstate or dismiss Mirkarimi from the sheriff’s role within 30 days.
“The fate of the sheriff has been made a key political issue in the election,” the attorneys’ letter states. “Sending the record to the board immediately prior to an election deprives the sheriff of a neutral decision-maker.”
Five supervisors are up for re-election in November.
“If this isn’t about politics, why not wait to ask for this vote until after the election?” Mirkarimi asked during a meeting of the Community Leadership Alliance today, where he was the guest speaker.
Mayor Ed Lee suspended Mirkarimi without pay in March following his guilty plea to a false imprisonment charge in connection with a Dec. 31 incident in which he grabbed and bruised the arm of his wife, Eliana Lopez, during an argument. The Ethics Commission upheld official misconduct charges against Mirkarimi in August.
Mirkarimi and his wife were reunited in August after a seven-month ban on contact between the couple. Their son, Theo, just started preschool in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, Mirkarimi said.
He described their situation as “financially depleted. Neither one of us is drawing a paycheck,” he said, adding that they owe $140,000 in legal fees.
Mirkarimi questioned the larger political implications of removing the elected sheriff from office and replacing him with an interim appointee:
“The net effect is, you consolidate power. If this is the consequence, you couldn’t be more regressive. To do it in the way they’re doing it now, it validates the early hints that this was about politics.”
The city attorney’s office, representing Mayor Ed Lee, opposes Mirkarimi’s request for a delay.
“The charter establishes a clear process for official misconduct proceedings, and there is simply no provision to delay that process until the political climate is supposedly more favorable to one side or the other,” city attorney spokesman Matt Dorsey said. “The Ethics Commission found that Sheriff Mirkarimi committed official misconduct, and now the Board of Supervisors has responsibility under the charter to make a final decision.”
The Ethics Commission meets at 3 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall.
Beth Winegarner, Bay City News