Gavin Newsom on Ross Mirkarimi: 'I understand his ... feeling he's being picked on'
ORIGINAL STORY: California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, San Francisco's former mayor, said on a local radio program today that he feels news outlets are being unfair to Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, who is facing charges of domestic violence.
On KQED radio's Forum talk show, Newsom expressed a surprising degree of sympathy with Mirkarimi, a former political rival who is facing trial on charges that he abused his wife. In particular, Newsom called into question the frequent news stories that have appeared about Mirkarimi's case, coverage spurred by a second woman's decision to come forward with allegations of physical violence against the sheriff.
"It's a little indulgent, in terms of just the day-to-day pounding in the media," Newsom said to host Michael Krasny. "There's got to be something else to talk about, as important as this is. So I understand his frustration, feeling he's being picked on. But trust me, I've been there, we all have, and such is the nature of responsibility in the public realm."
Newsom spokesman Francisco Castillo did not return a call seeking comment.
It's interesting to note that Newsom, when faced with a career-threatening transgression in his own personal life, took a decidedly different tack from Mirkarimi, who has refused to explain the circumstances that led to the charges against him. In a now-famous utterance, Newsom admitted at a 2007 press conference that he had had an affair with the wife of a close aide, declaring, "Everything you've heard and read is true."
Mirkarimi, a former supervisor who often butted heads with Newsom when the pair occupied City Hall, is scheduled to go on trial Feb. 24 for three misdemeanor counts of battery, child endangerment, and dissuading a witness after he allegedly abused his wife, Eliana Lopez during a New Year's Eve dispute. A former girlfriend of Mirkarimi's, Christina Flores, plans to testify that she, too, was abused by the sheriff when they dated in 2008.
Newsom, a father of two young children, said he can understand the anguish Mirkarimi has expressed over being separated from his wife and child in accordance with a judge's protective order.
"I understand it's difficult for him, and he seems to be, under the circumstances, weathering it well," Newsom said. "And I can only imagine, as a new father -- and sincerely I believe this -- how difficult it is for him to be separated from his son. But those are the rules of engagement. To the extent that he's been accused of something, he understands that system as well or better than anyone."
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