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Commissioner alleges Mayor Ed Lee committed perjury at Ross Mirkarimi hearing

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A city Building Inspection Commissioner alleged that Mayor Ed Lee committed perjury Friday when he testified that he had not consulted with members of the Board of Supervisors before deciding to charge Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi with misconduct.

During a recess in the suspended sheriff’s official misconduct hearing, Commissioner Debra Walker said Supervisor Christina Olague told her that the mayor had asked her whether Mirkarimi should be charged with misconduct. Lee began Ethics Commission proceedings to remove the sheriff from office in March, following Mirkarimi’s guilty plea to one count of false imprisonment in a domestic violence case involving his wife, Eliana Lopez.

The controvery arose Friday as Mirkarimi's attorney Shepard Kopp cross-examined the mayor.

"Mayor Lee, before you decided to file charges for misconduct here, did you talk to any members of the Board of Supervisors about whether or not you should do so?" Kopp asked.

"I did not," Lee replied.

Minutes later, a bomb threat delayed the hearing for nearly two hours.

During that recess, Walker, a Mirkarimi supporter attending Friday’s hearing, alleged that she talked with Olague sometime between Mirkarimi's guilty plea and when Lee moved to suspend him.

“When the mayor said he hadn’t talked to any supervisors, I know that to be not the fact,” said Walker, who is aligned with San Francisco’s more left-leaning political faction. “I was told by Christina Olague that she was meeting with the mayor about things and he had asked her specifically about whether or not he should remove Mirkarimi from office. And at the time, Christina told me that she had opined that he should ask for his resignation and if Mirkarimi didn’t resign that he should just let it go.”

Olague was appointed by Lee to take Mirkarimi’s seat on the Board of Supervisors, where he had served for nearly eight years before being elected sheriff.

"Mayor Lee stands by his statements,” his spokeswoman Christine Falvey later said.

Shortly after the mayor's statement, the hearing was abruptly suspended due to what Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Susan Fahey described as a bomb threat at City Hall.

The mayor was whisked out of the fourth-floor hearing room as staffers and security officials scrambled about his second floor executive offices. Although Lee departed, others attendance remained behind and were not told about the threat. The building was never locked down or cleared and the threat was later deemed to be baseless.

Walker cast suspicion on the abrupt interruption.

“Why did they stop the meeting?” she asked. “I think he was going to be led down the road of what an official should do if someone is lying under oath. That’s what I think was happening.”

Reporters then confronted Olague, who denied discussing the matter with Lee and retreated to her office. She later emerged, saying she had no further comment.

“I think she’s denying saying it now,” Walker said later. “But we had the conversation.”

Walker said Lee might have a motive to deny he spoke to Olague about the misconduct proceedings.

“It challenges his case,” she said. “It would be like talking to a judge about what they thought about a case before it went to a judge.”

The Board of Supervisors will have the ultimate decision over whether Mirkarimi is reinstated or permanently removed. It would take at least nine votes of the 11-member board to uphold the suspension.

Walker also recently accused the mayor of forcing the resignation of Vivian Day, director of the Department of Building Inspection. The mayor denied any involvement.

dschreiber@sfexaminer.com

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com