SAN FRANCISCO -- The woman who reported an incident of apparent domestic abuse that led to the suspension of Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi issued a statement on Friday slamming Supervisor Christina Olague for a vote that allowed him to return to office.
Olague, however, dismissed the statement and the committee that issued it as part of a politically motivated effort to "buy the election."
Olague faces multiple challengers on Tuesday as she seeks to be elected to her District 5 seat, which Mayor Ed Lee appointed her to after her predecessor, Mirkarimi, was elected sheriff.
Now Olague is the subject of a video released by Mirkarimi neighbor Ivory Madison, calling on residents to vote for "ANYONE on the ballot but Christina Olague."
Madison came to prominence after she contacted San Francisco police about an incident in which Mirkarimi grabbed his wife's arm during an argument, causing a bruise. Mirkarimi's wife, Eliana Lopez, had confided in Madison and made a video with her documenting the incident, but later refused to testify against her husband.
Mirkarimi, who held the District 5 seat now occupied by Olague before his election as sheriff, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor false imprisonment charge in March, prompting Lee to seek his removal on grounds of official misconduct. Olague, however, voted against his removal last month along with three other supervisors.
The vote drew the ire of Lee, who is listed as an endorser on her campaign web site, as well as advocates for domestic violence victims and women's issues. Today's video of Madison was released by an independent committee targeting Olague, called the San Francisco Women for Accountability and a Responsible Supervisor Opposing Christina Olague 2012.
"I live in District 5, next door to a convicted batterer, who is also our sheriff, because Christina Olague thinks it's okay to abuse your wife and still run a major law enforcement agency," Madison states in the video, noting that Olague helped "put Ross back in power."
The committee also released a statement from another Mirkarimi neighbor, Callie Williams, who indicated that Lopez had personally told her that Mirkarimi had abused her.
Olague said that the committee, and the statements, are part of a cynical effort to exploit the issue of domestic violence and pave the way for a more moderate or conservative candidate in a district widely considered among the more progressive in the city.
The committee, she noted, is funded heavily by Silicon Valley investor Ron Conway, a reputed ally of the mayor, and Linda Voight, the wife of real estate investor Thomas Coates. Coates has spent heavily citywide in support of moderate candidates.
"I think they're spending $100,000 to buy the election in District 5," said Olague. "I don't think they really care about this issue."
Olague, who emphasized her progressive credentials in areas including tenants' rights, youth violence and work with the homeless, said that her vote on Mirkarimi's case reflected her concerns about the legal precedent that would have been set by his removal.
"It wasn't an easy decision to make," Olague said. "It was one we really had to look at, setting precedent around how much power you want to give a mayor, because if they're given too much leeway then it would actually encourage a politicizing of these types of situations."
She did not join several other supervisors, however, in stating her support for a possible Mirkarimi recall, saying only that she didn't have an opinion on the matter.