Even as new evidence emerged Monday to corroborate a former city official’s suggestion that Mayor Ed Lee may have committed perjury before The City’s Ethics Commission, no San Francisco agency appeared likely to investigate the charges.
Two San Francisco institutions agree that perjury allegations regarding Lee’s June 29 statements at suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi’s official misconduct hearing should be taken seriously. But both suggested that responsibility for investigating the matter lay elsewhere.
“If the evidence surfaces that we have sworn testimony to indicate that perjury has taken place, then we will certainly evaluate whether that will be appropriate to prosecute,” District Attorney George Gascón said July 6, according to the Fog City Journal. “At this point, we need to let the Ethics Commission do its work.”
But Thursday, that commission declared the allegations irrelevant to whether Mirkarimi committed official misconduct when he bruised his wife’s arm during a Dec. 31 argument. Commission Chairman Ben Hur said any perjury investigation would be Gascón’s responsibility.
“The Ethics Commission could not adjudicate perjury,” Hur said. “That is a matter for the DA, it’s a criminal action and not something that we could decide.”
The District Attorney’s Office declined to comment Monday in the wake of that ruling, but spokeswoman Stephanie Ong-Stillman said Gascón could weigh in today.
The allegations were partially sparked when former Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin said he was asked by Lee confidant Walter Wong to offer Mirkarimi a new job on behalf of the Mayor’s Office in exchange for the sheriff’s resignation. Lee testified on June 29 that he didn’t authorize third parties to offer Mirkarimi any job.
Until now, there was no known corroboration for the alleged March 20 job offer outside of Peskin’s word. On Monday, Peskin revealed the following March 20 text message from Wong.
“Our friend want me to tell u, no matter what outcome w ur negotiations, he is appreciate ur Help,” read the message, which Peskin showed to an S.F. Examiner reporter.
Peskin said “our friend” was a reference to “the mayor or someone high up in the Mayor’s Office.” Peskin said he and Wong, a building permit expediter, met March 19 at Caffe Trieste to discuss the offer. Earlier this month, Wong told the World Journal, a Chinese-language newspaper, that he never approached Peskin with such a proposition.
“I know many people, know Peskin for many years,” says a translation of the article the City Attorney’s Office used to help quash subpoenas related to the perjury allegations. “When he ran, I also supported him, but I never for [Mirkarimi] the case to go look for him. How would I have such power? The mainstream media’s past coverage on me had often been unfair to me.”
Wong called the whole affair part of the “mainstream media’s attempt in trying to mess with the Chinese community.”
Peskin said he initially thought twice about executing Wong’s request.
“When he came to me, I was reluctant to be the messenger,” Peskin said on Monday. “But I thought this is going to be a huge conflagration that is not going to be healthy for anybody — not for Ross, not for his family, not for The City.”