From the moment suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi learned that he could be charged with domestic violence against his wife, he started making calculations with his campaign manager on how to avoid personal and political fallout.
Mirkarimi strategized that both he and wife Eliana Lopez should initially stay silent on the matter, but that, “A loud drum beat needs to vibe that this is a political witch hunt,” according to one of the dozens of text messages released Thursday in the ongoing official misconduct proceedings before The City’s Ethics Commission.
The newly elected sheriff was arrested in January, convicted in March and then quickly suspended without pay by Mayor Ed Lee for official misconduct — a move Mirkarimi is now fighting.
The text messages also suggest that Mirkarimi received immediate support from his wife, despite her tearful complaints to neighbor Ivory Madison about ongoing household abuse just days earlier.
“My love, be focus in your work!” wrote Lopez, whose first language is not English. “Don’t let any body make you feel worry! You are a winner! You have a great heart! You are a champion and we will win always!”
Upon learning that police were asking questions, Mirkarimi told Lopez to avoid speaking with the media. “Is the press around the house?” Mirkarimi texted his wife shortly after she revealed that Madison had spoken with investigators. “Avoid but be cool,” he wrote. And after establishing that no reporters were lurking outside the couple’s Webster Street home, Lopez immediately responded that Mirkarimi should “shut down” his Facebook page so “no one can make a comment.”
Linnette Peralta Haynes — Mirkarimi’s campaign manager, who had just helped him win the sheriff’s post in November — informed him that domestic violence advocates led by Beverly Upton were rallying for authorities to press the case. Despite the public outcry, Peralta Haynes insisted Mirkarimi not address the issue with the media.
“Unbelievable!” Mirkarimi replied. “Beverly knows that I’ve always been a fervent supporter of the community.
Am I really guilty until proven innocent … we know of the political forces at work here and yet, I’m advised to say nothing.”
In an apparent attempt to calm Mirkarimi, Peralta Haynes sent a text telling him that “this will pass,” and that it wasn’t surprising Upton would stage a rally, because she supported Mirkarimi’s opponent Chris Cunnie in the sheriff’s race. The text also said that Upton was “close” with someone named Kamala — presumably California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who also supported Cunnie in the race.
A domestic violence expert who reviewed the matter expressed in a declaration to the Ethics Commission that both Mirkarimi and Lopez have assumed typical abuser-victim roles during the saga, with the former displaying tactics of an “unreformed batterer” and the latter behaving as if she were entering a post-abuse “2nd honeymoon” stage in which the couple gets along for a period before violence gets worse.