The wife of suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said she was goaded and then duped by a neighbor into talking about how she was abused by her husband, according to a sworn statement released Wednesday by The City’s Ethics Commission.
Sparks continue to fly in Mirkarimi’s ongoing official misconduct proceedings, which came about when Mayor Ed Lee suspended him without pay in March shortly after his guilty plea in a domestic violence case involving his wife, Eliana Lopez.
Lopez contends that neighbor Ivory Madison was deceptive and too aggressive in encouraging her to make a video documenting a bruise on her arm, which resulted from a New Year’s Eve argument with Mirkarimi over custody issues with the couple’s 3-year-old son.
The declaration mentions the actual abuse incident only in passing and focuses mainly on criticizing the way Madison handled the situation. Lopez claims that Madison’s plan to go after Mirkarimi included involvement by former San Francisco Chronicle editor Phil Bronstein, District Attorney George Gascón and police Chief Greg Suhr.
“Ivory told me I should accuse Ross of domestic violence so that I could get custody of Theo,” Lopez wrote. “Ivory told me the way to do it was that Phil Bronstein would call the police chief, the district attorney, and a third person who I cannot remember now.”
Lopez also said Madison wanted to record video of the bruise before it faded.
“Ivory said, ‘Eliana, we have to do it now, it will be gone!’” Lopez wrote. “She told me not to take a shower, not to put on any makeup, and to keep myself in pajamas so that I looked as disheveled as possible.”
The video was later seized by police with a search warrant and became the prime piece of evidence in Mirkarimi’s criminal case. The City Attorney’s Office later released the video. While Mirkarimi’s attorneys say city officials used the video as leverage to make him stop fighting the charges, City attorney officials say they were obligated to release it due to media public records requests.
Madison, a former political supporter of Mirkarimi, said in her own declaration that she had hoped problems with the couple would calm after he won the November election. But Madison said that she actually perceived the relationship to be getting worse and felt obligated to help.
Lopez and her attorney maintain that she confided in Madison under the assumption that she was acting as an attorney and therefore would adhere to confidentiality standards. Although Madison attended law school and has described herself as a nonpracticing lawyer, she is not a member of the California State Bar.
The next Ethics Commission hearing on the matter is scheduled for tonight, and Friday morning. In that time, both Mirkarimi and the mayor could be called for live testimony.