Questions about possible perjury stemming from sworn testimony by Mayor Ed Lee are intensifying, as former Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin contradicts the story the mayor presented on Friday during official misconduct proceedings against suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.
During a tense hearing before The City’s Ethics Commission, Mirkarimi attorney Shepard Kopp asked Lee whether the sheriff was offered an alternative job if he would agree to resign instead of fighting official misconduct charges related to a New Year’s Eve scuffle with his wife.
“Did you ever extend an offer through third parties that if he would just resign you’d find him another job in The City?” Kopp asked.
Lee responded, “I don’t recall offering Mr. Mirkarimi any job.”
“So you never authorized, say, Aaron Peskin or Walter Wong to convey to Sheriff Mirkarimi if he would step down, you’d get him another job?” Kopp asked.
“Absolutely not,” Lee responded.
But Wednesday, Peskin said he was asked to tell Mirkarimi that an alternative job — perhaps with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission or Airport Commission — would be offered as part of his willingness to resign.
Peskin said the request to negotiate with Mirkarimi came to him from Walter Wong, a politically connected construction company owner who is tight with the mayor. Peskin said Wong informed him that he had instructions “from the mayor” to set up the offer.
The former supervisor said the message being conveyed to Mirkarimi was that he would be “taken care of” if he’d step down.
“It is true I was contacted by Walter Wong,” Peskin said, “and it is true he said his outreach was on behalf of the mayor.”
Peskin said Mirkarimi turned down the offer because he was skeptical about whether it could be honored, due to city regulations that prevent elected officials from taking non-elected jobs with The City after being in office for more than a year.
Attempts to contact Wong through his company were unsuccessful, with representatives saying he was unavailable for comment over the Independence Day holiday.
Kopp declined to go into in detail on any perjury allegations against the mayor, but suggested they could become relevant in the official misconduct proceedings, which are set to continue later this month.
“I’ll just say that we take perjury allegations very seriously,” Kopp said.
City Building Inspection Commissioner Debra Walker recently accused the mayor of lying when he denied consulting with members of the Board of Supervisors before he began removal proceedings against Mirkarimi in March. Walker said that Supervisor Christina Olague, a friend and political ally, told her that Lee had sought her advice before he suspended the former sheriff.
Perjury is commonly prosecuted as a felony, but any charges against the mayor would likely be brought under California’s official misconduct statute, because no known administrative mechanism exists within The City to charge the mayor with misconduct.