The odd story broke late Monday: embattled first-term San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has been driving on an expired license since February, after an October collision, and didn't even realize it until a local newspaper reported on the issue.
Mirkarimi opponents (of which there are many!) have never been shy about tipping off the media when there's dirt to be had on the sheriff. It's likely that that's exactly what happened with this story — remember, it's an election year, too — broken by the Chron yesterday afternoon and updated numerous times through this morning. So what more have we learned since yesterday?
Mirkarimi releases full statement
After a Mirkarimi spokesperson said yesterday that questions about the crash and the driver’s license suspension should be submitted in writing, at 7:51 last night Sheriff's Department public information officer Kenya Briggs sent the following release:
Sheriff Mirkarimi has only learned today, through press inquiries, that the DMV suspended his license -- except for his ability to drive for his employment duties -- for his failure to properly report an accident. Neither the Sheriff nor his insurance company has ever been notified by the DMV or any other entity regarding a license suspension or restriction.
Sheriff Mirkarimi was involved in a non-injury accident on 10/2/14. The accident took place while he was driving his City vehicle. The non-injury accident resulted as the Sheriff was merging with other traffic to avoid a closed lane. There was no damage to the City car but there was damage to the other car. The Sheriff traded information with the other driver, including insurance information. He provided his personal insurance information to the other driver as there was no City insurance information accessible in the City car.
The Sheriff immediately reported the incident to his insurance company as required. Sheriff Mirkarimi was informed by his insurance company that they would take care of the matter. He has confirmed with his insurance company that his coverage has always remained in effect.
Sheriff Mirkarimi received a citation for a traffic violation by a San Francisco Police Officer in June. The Sheriff was not advised of any license suspension or restriction at that time. This citation has been resolved.
Sheriff Mirkarimi is working immediately to resolve the issue of his restricted license. He has contacted his insurance representatives to determine why the proper report was not submitted to the DMV. Sheriff Mirkarimi is expediting the resolution of the matter.
Mirkarimi was still on probation during the October crash
Though the sheriff got his domestic violence conviction expunged from his record in April, he was still on misdemeanor probation when the collision occurred, the Chron notes. His probation ended in March of this year, if you care.
SFPD pulled Mirkarimi over in June
The Chron reports that "In June, San Francisco police cited him for an alleged turn violation near the Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St. while trying to make a turn, said DMV technician Veronica Proserpi. She said the matter had been resolved but did not give details."
So, we already know that though Mirkarimi's license was suspended, he's still permitted to drive to and from work, which he likely was. But there's still a couple things to unpack here: first, the fact that police made the effort to pull over and cited Mirkarimi is certainly a comment on his relationship with SFPD, isn't it?
But next, of course, is the question of why the expired license issue didn't come to light then. Did the citing officer run Mirkarimi's license and see that it was suspended? Did they inform him of this issue? If so, then his statement from last night would seem to contain a lie. If the officer saw that it was expired and didn't say something to Mirkarimi, that's shady, too.
Mirkarimi's opponents are pleased as punch about this whole thing
In a written statement, Vicki Hennessy, who hopes to win Mirkarimi's seat in November, says "An inability to take personal responsibility for his actions is a consistent failing of this sheriff." Then, speaking to the Chron, Hennessy spokesperson Maggie Muir says that “This is pretty basic stuff — there is apparently some disconnect with him following the laws that everyone else is required to follow...That is ironic, since he wants the voters to keep him in office as sheriff.”
Speaking to ABC7, Eugene Cerbone, president of the San Francisco Deputy Sheriff's Association, said "As sheriff, you should know better the laws more so than anybody."
"It's always somebody else's problem, or somebody else is doing something wrong, and I think people see that and they're embarrassed. It keeps getting worse."