Sparks continue to fly in the ongoing official misconduct proceedings against suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, with his wife now accusing her husband’s accusers of their own brand of official misconduct.
The City Attorney’s Office — which is attempting to uphold Mayor Ed Lee’s March suspension of the newly elected sheriff in a case before the Ethics Commission — released emotional video evidence last week of Eliana Lopez, Mirkarimi’s wife. The footage depicts a tearful Lopez explaining what happened a day after the couple got into an argument that ended with Mirkarimi grabbing her arm hard enough to leave a bruise.
Lopez’s attorney, Paula Canny, filed an official complaint with the Ethics Commission claiming that irreparable damage has been done to her client because the video has now “gone viral” on the Internet for everyone, including the couple’s 3-year-old son, to see.
The City Attorney’s Office said it was compelled to release the footage because of media requests under the public records requirements of the Sunshine Ordinance. Canny argues that the video is not the type of material to which the law applies, because it’s not an official act by a public officer and has nothing to do with the workings of government.
Canny said the video’s contents are “absolutely not the people’s business” — and she now wants the Ethics Commission to consider whether the mayor himself should face questions of official misconduct for allowing it to be released.
Matt Dorsey, a City Attorney’s Office spokesman, said Mirkarimi’s side is “playing martyr” and had plenty of chances to address the video issue.
“The City invoked the maximum allowable two-week extension after receiving sunshine requests for the video, to allow other parties to seek a protective order,” Dorsey said. “But opposing counsel dropped the ball. They didn’t get a protective order. They didn’t seek Supreme Court review. They didn’t raise the issue at the Ethics Commission hearing. And as far as I know, Ms. Canny didn’t even bother to show up at the hearing.”
Although the Ethics Commission denied a protective order submitted by Mirkarimi’s attorneys to prevent release of the video, a similar request by Canny on behalf of Lopez was still pending when the footage was released. Canny also questioned the timing of the video’s release. The ethics hearings are shaping up to be a laborious process that could last well into the summer.
Ethics Commission Executive Director John St. Croix said that while he’s prohibited from speaking about individual complaints, they are generally reviewed by the commission within a three-month period, although the process has been known to take as long as two years.
Lopez and her son have been staying in her native Venezuela, with no immediate plans to return.