Mayor and Mirkarimi testify in Ethics probe before dramatic disruption

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Mayor Ed Lee testifies under oath before the Ethics Commission.
Mike Koozmin

After Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi endured about four hours of questioning in his official misconduct proceedings, mostly from Deputy City Attorney Peter Keith, Mayor Ed Lee took the stand a little after 1pm. But just as Mirkarimi attorney Shepherd Kopp was beginning to pin Lee down on the selective manner in which he decided to launch these unprecedented proceedings, the commission suddenly announced the hearing was being suspended and the room would need to be cleared immediately.

There is speculation that there was a bomb threat or other security emergency, but officials have so far offered no explanation for the dramatic development or whether the hearing would reconvene today. Yet the room is still half-filled with journalists and audience members, some speculating that that the clearing of the room was simply an effort to get the unusually grim-faced Lee off the hot seat.

Kopp's questioning included pointed questions about whether he consulted any members of the Board of Supervisors before deciding to bring official misconduct charges against Mirkarimi in March. The city's objection was overruled after Kopp noted that the supervisors will ultimately decide Mirkarimi's fate. Forced to answer under oath, Lee said no, he didn't speak to any supervisors before filing charges.

But progressive activist Debra Walker says Sup. Christina Olague -- women who are close political allies and speak regularly -- has repeatedly told her that Mayor Lee asked her opinion before filing the charges. If true, that would mean Mayor Lee committed perjury, which is a felony. Yet as reporters confronted Olague outside her office, she denied ever speaking with Lee about the case and then barricaded herself in her office.

When the reporters lingered and persisted, she finally emerged, reiterated her denial, refused to speculate about why her friend Walker would make that claim, and said, "We're not allowed to discuss this matter with anyone before it comes to the board...I may have to recuse myself from voting on this."

It was unclear why she thought recusal might be necessary, but if she does that would hurt Lee's effort to get the nine votes on the board needed to remove Mirkarimi.

We'll have complete analysis of the testimony and other developments in next week's Guardian.

 

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