Mayor Lee Won't Face Perjury Investigation, D.A. Says

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It's all playing out just as Mayor Lee hoped.
It looks like the perjury charge against Mayor Ed Lee will soon fade into insignificance. District Attorney George Gascón this week maintained his position that that there isn't enough evidence to pursue an investigation. Meanwhile, the Ethics Commission has ruled that it will not issue subpoenas for the people allegedly involved in the perjury accusation, because the charges are irrelevant to its main purpose of determining whether Ross Mirkarimi should be permanently booted from his post as county sheriff.

So the charge is stuck in international waters, as both sides with the power to go after Lee insist that the ball is in the other's court. The D.A. says he needs more information; the body with the ability to get that information says that it is not their responsibility to get it.

"It's a matter for the [D.A.], not something for us to decide," Commissioner Benedict Hur said at a hearing last week. "The issue is too collateral to merit additional testimony."

The charges stemmed from Lee's June 29 testimony at Mirkarimi's Ethics Commission hearing, when Lee argued that Mirkarimi should be removed from office for a false imprisonment conviction connected to a domestic dispute with his wife. Lee believes Mirkarimi was trying to hide the incident from the public. But Mirkarimi's legal team claims that Lee lied twice on the stand.

Lee stated that he did not speak to any city supervisors before filing official misconduct charges against Mirkarimi. After the mayor's testimony, though, building Inspection Commissioner Debra Walker, a Mirkarimi supporter, said that Supervisor Christine Olague told her that Lee had asked her about potentially removing the sheriff from office.

Lee also testified that he did not tell Mirkarimi, through third-party messengers, that a job for him would open up if he resigned as sheriff. But former Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin has said that Walter Wong, a politically connected developer, told him that Lee wanted Peskin to tell Mirkarimi that the city would offer him a job if he resigned. The Examiner also reported that Wong sent Peskin a March 20 text that read, "Our friend want me to tell u, no matter what outcome w ur negotiations, he is appreciate ur Help."

Lee asserts that he told only the truth on the stand, calling the perjury accusation "reckless and outrageous." Olague has denied that she and Lee discussed Mirkarimi before the sheriff's suspension. Wong, in the Chinese-language paper The World Journal, said that he did not pass along the job offer and did not reach out to Peskin about it.

The players involved, though, will likely not have to explain their sides under oath, making all this another he-said-she-said political stalemate.

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